Implications of ice morphology for comet formation

Collings, M. P.; Dever, J. W.; McCoustra, M. R. S. and Fraser, H. J. (2005). Implications of ice morphology for comet formation. In: Engvold, Oddbjørn ed. Highlights of Astronomy:, Volume 13. San Francisco, CA: Astronomical Society of the Pacific,, pp. 491–494.


Laboratory surface science under ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) conditions allows us to simulate the growth of ices in astrophysical environments. Using the techniques of temperature programmed desorption (TPD), reflection-absorption infrared spectroscopy (RAIRS) and microbalance methods, we have studied binary ice systems consisting of water (H2O) and variety of other species including carbon monoxide (CO), at astrophysically relevant conditions of temperature and pressure. We present results that demonstrate that the morphology of water ice has an important influence on the behaviour of such systems, by allowing processes such as diffusion and trapping that can not be understood through a knowledge of the binding energies of the species alone. Through an understanding of the implications of water ice morphology on the behaviour of ice mixtures in the interstellar environment, additional constraints can be placed on the thermodynamic conditions and ice compositions during comet formation.

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