Fluorescence Excitation Model And Mixing Ratios Of Ethylene (C2H4) In Comets

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astronomy

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Scientific paper

In the last decade, some kinds of organic volatiles in cometary comae have been observed by the high-dispersion spectroscopic observations of comets in near-infrared region. One of interesting characters of cometary ices is the existence of abundant ethane (C2H6) relative to methane (CH4), even though ethane could not be formed by gas phase reactions only. Formation reactions of ethane in the early solar nebula (or in the pre-solar molecular cloud) are thought as the hydrogen addition reactions to acetylene on the cold grains (e.g., C2H2 -> C2H3 -> C2H4 -> C2H5 -> C2H6). However, it is reported that ethane could be formed by the dimerization of CH3 in CH4-rich ice by irradiation of energetic protons (Hadson and Moore, 1997). So the existence of ethylene (C2H4) is a key to distinguish these hypothesizes. The abundance of C2H4 is clue to contribution of C2H6 formation by hydrogen addition reactions.
If we can confirm the existence of ethylene, conversion efficiency from acetylene to ethane and ethylene would provide clear view to the hydrogen addition reactions in the early solar nebula or in the pre-solar molecular cloud, because H atom can stick on cold grains under low temperature conditions (< 20 K) only. However, fluorescence excitation model for ethylene in comets have never been proposed to date. In this work, we will present the fluorescence excitation model of ethylene and we will determine C2H4/H2O ratios (or its upper limits) for the comets in our database.

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