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Cosmic ray sputtering yield of interstellar H$_2$O ice mantles: Ice mantle thickness dependence

Abstract : Aims. Interstellar grain mantles present in dense interstellar clouds are in constant exchange with the gas phase via accretion and desorption mechanisms such as UV, X-ray photodesorption, cosmic ray induced sputtering, grain thermal fluctuations, and chemical reaction energy release. The relative importance of the various desorption mechanisms is of uttermost importance for astrophysical models to constrain the chemical evolution in such high density dense cloud regions. Methods. The sputtering yields for swift ions simulating the effects of cosmic rays are most often measured in the semi-infinite limit using thick ice targets with the determination of the effective yield per incident ion. In this experimental work we investigated the sputtering yield as a function of ice mantle thickness, exposed to Xe ions at 95 MeV. The ion induced ice phase transformation and the sputtering yield were simultaneously monitored by infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Results. The sputtering yield is constant above a characteristic ice layer thickness and then starts to decrease below this thickness. An estimate of the typical sputtering depth corresponding to this length can be evaluated by comparing the infinite thickness yield to the column density where the onset of the sputtering yield decrease occurs. In these experiments the measured characteristic desorption depth corresponds to ≈30 ice layers. Assuming an effective cylindrical shape for the volume of sputtered molecules, the aspect ratio is close to unity; in the semi-infinite ice film case this ratio is the diameter to height of the cylinder. This result shows that most ejected molecules arise from a rather compact volume. The measured infinite thickness sputtering yield for water ice mantles scales as the square of the ion electronic stopping power (Se, deposited energy per unit path length). Considering the experiments on insulators, we expect that the desorption depth dependence varies with Seα, where α ~ 1. Astrophysical models should take into account the thickness dependence constraints of these ice mantles in the interface regions when ices are close to their extinction threshold. In the very dense cloud regions, most of the water ice mantles are above this limit for the bulk of the cosmic rays.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02268934
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Submitted on : Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 10:32:01 AM
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E. Dartois, M. Chabot, T. Id Barkach, H. Rothard, B. Augé, et al.. Cosmic ray sputtering yield of interstellar H$_2$O ice mantles: Ice mantle thickness dependence. Astron.Astrophys., 2018, 618, pp.A173. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201833277⟩. ⟨hal-02268934⟩

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