Pore evolution in interstellar ice analogues. Simulating the effects of temperature increase

S. Cazaux, J.-B. Bossa, H. Linnartz, A. G. G. M. Tielens

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Context. The level of porosity of interstellar ices, largely comprised of amorphous solid water (ASW), contains clues about the trapping capacity of other volatile species and determines the surface accessibility that is needed for solid-state reactions to take place. Aims: Our goal is to simulate the growth of amorphous water ice at low temperature (10 K) and to characterise the evolution of the porosity (and the specific surface area) as a function of temperature (from 10 to 120 K). Methods: Kinetic Monte Carlo simulations are used to mimic the formation and the thermal evolution of pores in amorphous water ice. We follow the accretion of gas-phase water molecules as well as their migration on surfaces with different grid sizes, both at the top growing layer and within the bulk. Results: We show that the porosity characteristics change substantially in water ice as the temperature increases. The total surface of the pores decreases to a great extend while the total volume decreases only slightly for higher temperatures. This will decrease the overall reaction efficiency, but in parallel, small pores connect and merge, which allows trapped molecules to meet and react within the pores network and provides a pathway to increase the reaction efficiency. We introduce pore coalescence as a new solid-state process that may boost the solid-state formation of new molecules in space, and which has not been considered so far.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA16
Number of pages7
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2015


  • astrochemistry
  • ISM: abundances
  • ISM: molecules
  • stars: formation

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