A laboratory study of water ice erosion by low-energy ions

Elena A. Muntean*, Pedro Lacerda, Thomas A. Field, Alan Fitzsimmons, Wesley C. Fraser, Adam C. Hunniford, Robert W. McCullough

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
303 Downloads (Pure)


Water ice covers the surface of various objects in the outer Solar system.Within the heliopause, surface ice is constantly bombarded and sputtered by energetic particles from the solar wind and magnetospheres. We report a laboratory investigation of the sputtering yield of water ice when irradiated at 10 K by 4 keV singly (13C+, N+, O+, Ar+) and doubly charged ions (13C2+, N2+, O2+). The experimental values for the sputtering yields are in good agreement with the prediction of a theoretical model. There is no significant difference in the yield for singly and doubly charged ions. Using these yields, we estimate the rate of water ice erosion in the outer Solar system objects due to solar wind sputtering. Temperature-programmed desorption of the ice after irradiation with 13C+ and 13C2+ demonstrated the formation of 13CO and 13CO2, with 13CO being the dominant formed species.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberstw1855
Pages (from-to)3361-3367
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2016


  • Astrochemistry
  • Methods: laboratory: molecular
  • Molecular processes
  • Solid state: volatile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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