Surface chemistry in photodissociation regions

G. B. Esplugues, S. Cazaux, R. Meijerink, M. Spaans, P. Caselli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Context. The presence of dust can strongly affect the chemical composition of the interstellar medium. We model the chemistry in photodissociation regions (PDRs) using both gas-phase and dust-phase chemical reactions. Aims. Our aim is to determine the chemical compositions of the interstellar medium (gas/dust/ice) in regions with distinct (molecular) gas densities that are exposed to radiation fields with different intensities. Methods. We have significantly improved the Meijerink PDR code by including 3050 new gas-phase chemical reactions and also by implementing surface chemistry. In particular, we have included 117 chemical reactions occurring on grain surfaces covering different processes, such as adsorption, thermal desorption, chemical desorption, two-body reactions, photo processes, and cosmic-ray processes on dust grains. Results. We obtain abundances for different gas and solid species as a function of visual extinction, depending on the density and radiation field. We also analyse the rates of the formation of CO2 and H2O ices in different environments. In addition, we study how chemistry is affected by the presence/absence of ice mantles (bare dust or icy dust) and the impact of considering different desorption probabilities. Conclusions. The type of substrate (bare dust or icy dust) and the probability of desorption can significantly alter the chemistry occurring on grain surfaces, leading to differences of several orders of magnitude in the abundances of gas-phase species, such as CO, H2CO, and CH3OH. The type of substrate, together with the density and intensity of the radiation field, also determine the threshold extinction to form ices of CO2 and H2O. We also conclude that H2CO and CH3OH are mainly released into the gas phase of low, far-ultraviolet illuminated PDRs through chemical desorption upon two-body surface reactions, rather than through photodesorption.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA52
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrochemistry
  • ISM: abundances
  • Photon-dominated region

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