CO2 formation in quiescent clouds: an experimental study of the CO + OH pathway

J. A. Noble, F. Dulieu, E. Congiu, H. J. Fraser

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The formation of CO2 in quiescent regions of molecular clouds is not yet fully understood, despite CO2 having an abundance of around 10%-34% H2O. We present a study of the formation of CO2 via the nonenergetic route CO + OH on nonporous H2O and amorphous silicate surfaces. Our results are in the form of temperature-programmed desorption spectra of CO2 produced via two experimental routes: O-2 + CO + H and O-3 + CO + H. The maximum yield of CO2 is around 8% with respect to the starting quantity of CO, suggesting a barrier to CO + OH. The rate of reaction, based on modeling results, is 24 times slower than O-2 + H. Our model suggests that competition between CO2 formation via CO + OH and other surface reactions of OH is a key factor in the low yields of CO2 obtained experimentally, with relative reaction rates of k(CO+H) << k(CO+OH) < k(H2O2+H) < k(OH+H), k(O2+H). Astrophysically, the presence of CO2 in low AV regions of molecular clouds could be explained by the reaction CO + OH occurring concurrently with the formation of H2O via the route OH + H.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2011


  • astrochemistry
  • ISM: molecules
  • laboratory
  • young stellar objects
  • hydrogenated carbon grains
  • interstellar ice analogs
  • 10 K
  • water formation
  • infrared spectroscopy
  • surface reactants
  • reactant complex
  • molecular clouds
  • ion irradiation

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