Date

2018

Department or Program

Chemistry

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Christopher Arumainayagam

Abstract

In the interstellar medium, UV photolysis of condensed methanol (CH3OH), contained in ice mantles surrounding dust grains, is thought to be the mechanism that drives the formation of “complex” molecules, such as methyl formate (HCOOCH3), dimethyl ether (CH3OCH3), acetic acid (CH3COOH), and glycolaldehyde (HOCH2CHO). Methoxymethanol (CH3OCH2OH), another “complex” molecule, was first detected in the interstellar medium in 2017 based on data from Bands 6 and 7 from the recently commissioned Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile. Methoxymethanol was first identified in 1995 as an electron-induced radiolysis product of condensed methanol. Because no previous studies identified methoxymethanol as a photolysis product of condensed methanol, methoxymethanol was suggested as a possible tracer molecule for electron-initiated reactions in interstellar ices. We report the first identification of methoxymethanol (CH3OCH2OH) as a photolysis product of condensed methanol based on temperature programmed desorption studies conducted following irradiation with photons of energies below the ionization threshold (9.8 eV) of methanol.

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