Authors: Santoro, Gonzalo; Sobrado, Jesus M.; Tajuelo-Castilla, Guillermo; Accolla, Mario; Martinez, Lidia; Azpeitia, Jon; Lauwaet, Koen; Cernicharo, Jose; Ellis, Gary J.; Angel Martin-Gago, Jose
Journal: REVIEW OF SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS
Publication date: 2020/12/01
Abstract: Laboratory astrochemistry aims at simulating, in the laboratory, some of the chemical and physical processes that operate in different regions of the universe. Amongst the diverse astrochemical problems that can be addressed in the laboratory, the evolution of cosmic dust grains in different regions of the interstellar medium (ISM) and its role in the formation of new chemical species through catalytic processes present significant interest. In particular, the dark clouds of the ISM dust grains are coated by icy mantles and it is thought that the ice-dust interaction plays a crucial role in the development of the chemical complexity observed in space. Here, we present a new ultra-high vacuum experimental station devoted to simulating the complex conditions of the coldest regions of the ISM. The INFRA-ICE machine can be operated as a standing alone setup or incorporated in a larger experimental station called Stardust, which is dedicated to simulate the formation of cosmic dust in evolved stars. As such, INFRA-ICE expands the capabilities of Stardust allowing the simulation of the complete journey of cosmic dust in space, from its formation in asymptotic giant branch stars to its processing and interaction with icy mantles in molecular clouds. To demonstrate some of the capabilities of INFRA-ICE, we present selected results on the ultraviolet photochemistry of undecane (C11H24) at 14 K. Aliphatics are part of the carbonaceous cosmic dust, and recently, aliphatics and short n-alkanes have been detected in situ in the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.