Photon-induced desorption of larger species in UV-irradiated methane ice

H. Carrascosa, G. A. Cruz-Díaz, G. M. Muñoz Caro, E. Dartois, Y. J. Chen

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8 Scopus citations


At the low temperatures found in the interior of dense clouds and circumstellar regions, along with H2O and smaller amounts of species such as CO, CO2 or CH3OH, the infrared features of CH4 have been observed on icy dust grains. Ultraviolet (UV) photons induce different processes in ice mantles, affecting the molecular abundances detected in the gas phase. This work aims to understand the processes that occur in a pure CH4 ice mantle subjected to UV irradiation.We studied photon-induced processes for the different photoproducts arising in the ice upon UV irradiation. Experiments were carried out in ISAC, an ultra-high vacuum chamber equipped with a cryostat and an F-type UV lamp reproducing the secondary UV field induced by cosmic rays in dense clouds. Infrared spectroscopy and quadrupolemass spectrometry were used to monitor the solid and gas phases, respectively, during the formation, irradiation and warming-up of the ice. Direct photodesorption of pure CH4 was not observed. UV photons form CHx· and H· radicals, leading to photoproducts such as H2, C2H2, C2H6 and C3H8. Evidence for the photodesorption of C2H2 and photochemidesorption of C2H6 and C3H8 was found; the latter species is so far the largest molecule found to photochemidesorb. 13CH4 experiments were also carried out to confirm the reliability of these results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-829
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Astrochemistry-methods: laboratory: molecular
  • ISM: molecules
  • Ultraviolet: ISM


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