skip to main content


Title: Complex Reactive Acids from Methanol and Carbon Dioxide Ice: Glycolic Acid (HOCH 2 COOH) and Carbonic Acid Monomethyl Ester (CH 3 OCOOH)
Abstract

The formation of complex organic molecules by simulated secondary electrons generated in the track of galactic cosmic rays was investigated in interstellar ice analogs composed of methanol and carbon dioxide. The processed ices were subjected to temperature-programmed desorption to mimic the transition of a cold molecular cloud to a warmer star-forming region. Reaction products were detected as they sublime using photoionization reflectron time-of-flight mass spectrometry. By employing isotopic labeling, tunable photoionization and computed adiabatic ionization energies isomers of C2H4O3were investigated. Product molecules carbonic acid monomethyl ester (CH3OCOOH) and glycolic acid (HOCH2COOH) were identified. The abundance of the reactants detected in analog interstellar ices and the low irradiation dose necessary to form these products indicates that these molecules are exemplary candidates for interstellar detection. Molecules sharing a tautomeric relationship with glycolic acid, dihydroxyacetaldehyde ((OH)2CCHO), and the enol ethenetriol (HOCHC(OH)2), were not found to form despite ices being subjected to conditions that have successfully produced tautomerization in other ice analog systems.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
2103269
NSF-PAR ID:
10390107
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Volume:
942
Issue:
1
ISSN:
0004-637X
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: Article No. 43
Size(s):
["Article No. 43"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Carbonyl-bearing complex organic molecules (COMs) in the interstellar medium (ISM) are of significant importance due to their role as potential precursors to biomolecules. Simple aldehydes and ketones like acetaldehyde, acetone, and propanal have been recognized as fundamental molecular building blocks and tracers of chemical processes involved in the formation of distinct COMs in molecular clouds and star-forming regions. Although previous laboratory simulation experiments and modeling established the potential formation pathways of interstellar acetaldehyde and propanal, the underlying formation routes to the simplest ketone—acetone—in the ISM are still elusive. Herein, we performed a systematic study to unravel the synthesis of acetone, its propanal and propylene oxide isomers, as well as the propenol tautomers in interstellar analog ices composed of methane and acetaldehyde along with isotopic-substitution studies to trace the reaction pathways of the reactive intermediates. Chemical processes in the ices were triggered at 5.0 K upon exposure to proxies of Galactic cosmic rays in the form of energetic electrons. The products were detected isomer-selectively via vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) photoionization reflectron time-of-flight mass spectrometry. In our experiments, the branching ratio of acetone (CH3COCH3):propylene oxide (c-CH3CHOCH2):propanal (CH3CH2CHO) was determined to be (4.82 ± 0.05):(2.86 ± 0.13):1. The radical–radical recombination reaction leading to acetone emerged as the dominant channel. The propenols appeared only at a higher radiation dose via keto–enol tautomerization. The current study provides mechanistic information on the fundamental nonequilibrium pathways that may be responsible for the formation of acetone and its (enol) isomers inside the interstellar icy grains.

     
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    The identification of silicon‐substituted, complex organics carrying multiple functional groups by classical infrared spectroscopy is challenging because the group frequencies of functional groups often overlap. Photoionization (PI) reflectron time‐of‐fight mass spectrometry (ReTOF‐MS) in combination with temperature‐programmed desorption (TPD) holds certain advantages because molecules are identified after sublimation from the matrix into in the gas phase based on distinct ionization energies and sublimation temperatures. In this study, we reveal the detection of 1‐silaglycolaldehyde (HSiOCH2OH), 2‐sila‐acetic acid (H3SiCOOH), and 1,2‐disila‐acetaldehyde (H3SiSiHO)—the silicon analogues of the well‐known glycolaldehyde (HCOCH2OH), acetic acid (H3CCOOH), and acetaldehyde (H3CCHO), in the gas phase after preparation in silane (SiH4)–carbon dioxide ices exposed to energetic electrons and subliming the neutral reaction products formed within the ices into the gas phase.

     
    more » « less
  3. We unravel, for the very first time, the formation pathways of hydroxyacetone (CH 3 COCH 2 OH), methyl acetate (CH 3 COOCH 3 ), and 3-hydroxypropanal (HCOCH 2 CH 2 OH), as well as their enol tautomers within mixed ices of methanol (CH 3 OH) and acetaldehyde (CH 3 CHO) analogous to interstellar ices in the ISM exposed to ionizing radiation at ultralow temperatures of 5 K. Exploiting photoionization reflectron time-of-flight mass spectrometry (PI-ReToF-MS) and isotopically labeled ices, the reaction products were selectively photoionized allowing for isomer discrimination during the temperature-programmed desorption phase. Based on the distinct mass-to-charge ratios and ionization energies of the identified species, we reveal the formation pathways of hydroxyacetone (CH 3 COCH 2 OH), methyl acetate (CH 3 COOCH 3 ), and 3-hydroxypropanal (HCOCH 2 CH 2 OH) via radical–radical recombination reactions and of their enol tautomers (prop-1-ene-1,2-diol (CH 3 C(OH)CHOH), prop-2-ene-1,2-diol (CH 2 C(OH)CH 2 OH), 1-methoxyethen-1-ol (CH 3 OC(OH)CH 2 ) and prop-1-ene-1,3-diol (HOCH 2 CHCHOH)) via keto-enol tautomerization. To the best of our knowledge, 1-methoxyethen-1-ol (CH 3 OC(OH)CH 2 ) and prop-1-ene-1,3-diol (HOCH 2 CHCHOH) are experimentally identified for the first time. Our findings help to constrain the formation mechanism of hydroxyacetone and methyl acetate detected within star-forming regions and suggest that the hitherto astronomically unobserved isomer 3-hydroxypropanal and its enol tautomers represent promising candidates for future astronomical searches. These enol tautomers may contribute to the molecular synthesis of biologically relevant molecules in deep space due to their nucleophilic character and high reactivity. 
    more » « less
  4. Methylamine (CH 3 NH 2 ) and methanimine (CH 2 NH) represent essential building blocks in the formation of amino acids in interstellar and cometary ices. In our study, by exploiting isomer selective detection of the reaction products via photoionization coupled with reflectron time of flight mass spectrometry (Re-TOF-MS), we elucidate the formation of methanimine and ethylenediamine (NH 2 CH 2 CH 2 NH 2 ) in methylamine ices exposed to energetic electrons as a proxy for secondary electrons generated by energetic cosmic rays penetrating interstellar and cometary ices. Interestingly, the two products methanimine and ethylenediamine are isoelectronic to formaldehyde (H 2 CO) and ethylene glycol (HOCH 2 CH 2 OH), respectively. Their formation has been confirmed in interstellar ice analogs consisting of methanol (CH 3 OH) which is ioselectronic to methylamine. Both oxygen-bearing species formed in methanol have been detected in the interstellar medium (ISM), while for methanimine and ethylenediamine only methanimine has been identified so far. In comparison with the methanol ice products and our experimental findings, we predict that ethylenediamine should be detectable in these astronomical sources, where methylamine and methanimine are present. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Ices of acetylene (C2H2) and ammonia (NH3) were irradiated with energetic electrons to simulate interstellar ices processed by galactic cosmic rays in order to investigate the formation of C2H3N isomers. Supported by quantum chemical calculations, experiments detected product molecules as they sublime from the ices using photoionization reflectron time‐of‐flight mass spectrometry (PI‐ReTOF‐MS). Isotopically‐labeled ices confirmed the C2H3N assignments while photon energies of 8.81 eV, 9.80 eV, and 10.49 eV were utilized to discriminate isomers based on their known ionization energies. Results indicate the formation of ethynamine (HCCNH2) and 2H‐azirine (c‐H2CCHN) in the irradiated C2H2:NH3ices, and the energetics of their formation mechanisms are discussed. These findings suggest that these two isomers can form in interstellar ices and, upon sublimation during the hot core phase, could be detected using radio astronomy.

     
    more » « less