Vibrational spectroscopy of interstellar molecules
Department of Chemistry and Center for Chemical Physics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, 32611-7200, USA
In this paper we describe how infrared vibrational spectroscopy has been applied in our laboratory to three areas of interest to interstellar chemistry: the origin of the unidentified interstellar infrared emission bands, the depletion of the iron in the interstellar medium, and the fractionation of isotope-bearing molecules in space. In the first area, infrared absorption spectra of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and their ions trapped in cryogenic rare gas matrices have been analyzed and shown to coincide well with the frequencies and relative intensities of the unidentified infrared emission bands. These bands have been observed from many sources in interstellar space, including reflection and planetary nebulae and H II regions, in parts of the Milky Way, as well as other galaxies. In the second area, a free electron laser, with tunable output in the infrared, has been utilized to record resonant multiphoton photodissociation vibrational spectra of various polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons complexed with Fe+ in a Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometer. Stable complexes found for Fe+ and a number of PAHs suggest that iron could be sequestered in such species and that they could function as carriers of the unidentified infrared emission bands. In the third area, the photo-induced 13C-isotopic scrambling in the C3 carbon cluster has been investigated by matrix isolation infrared spectroscopy. Fractionation is shown to arise from small zero-point energy differences in the C3 isotopomers. A proposed mechanism of isotopic scrambling involving the formation of cyclic C3 intermediates may be applicable to other species for which isotopic fractionation has also been observed in the ISM.
© EDP Sciences, Springer-Verlag, 2007