Icy grain mantles consist of small molecules containing hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen atoms (e.g. H2O, CO, CO2, NH3). Such ices, present in different astrophysical environments (giant planets satellites, comets, dense clouds, and protoplanetary disks), are subjected to irradiation of different energetic particles: UV radiation, ion bombardment (solar and stellar wind as well as galactic cosmic rays), and secondary electrons due to cosmic ray ionization of H2. The interaction of these particles with astrophysical ice analogs has been the object of research over the last decades. However, there is a lack of information on the effects induced by the heavy ion component of cosmic rays in the electronic energy loss regime. The aim of the present work is to simulate of the astrophysical environment where ice mantles are exposed to the heavy ion cosmic ray irradiation.
Sample ice films at 13K were irradiated by nickel ions with energies in the 1-10 MeV/u range and analyzed by means of FTIR spectrometry. Nickel ions were used because their energy deposition is similar to that deposited by iron ions, which are particularly abundant cosmic rays amongst the heaviest ones.
In this work the effects caused by nickel ions on condensed gases are studied (destruction and production of molecules as well as associated cross sections, sputtering yields) and compared with respective values for light ions and UV photons.