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Experimental investigation of the effects of energetic processing on ice mixtures relevant to astrochemistry and astrobiology

Solid phase molecules (often referred to as ices) have been detected in different astrophysical environments (e.g. interstellar grains, comets, surface of airless solar system bodies). Ices in space are continuously exposed to energetic processing caused by low-energy cosmic rays, solar wind, solar energetic ions and UV photons. The knowledge of the effects of energetic processing on astrophysically relevant materials is mainly based on laboratory experiments.
The aim of this project is to investigate the effects of ion bombardment and UV irradiation on astrophysically relevant solid samples. In particular, ice mixtures made of simple molecules (such as water, methanol, methane, carbon monoxide, nitrogen and ammonia) will be accreted on a cold substrate (10-20 K) under ultra high vacuum (pressure about 10^-9 mbar) and irradiated with fast ions (0.1-0.4 MeV) and UV photons (Lyman-alpha) and analyzed in situ by Infrared and Raman spectroscopy. The analysis of the experimental data will be focused on the formation and evolution of complex molecules. In some instances laboratory spectra will be compared to astronomical observations.


 Referente: Maria Elisabetta Palumbo (