An ISO View on Interstellar and Cometary Ice Chemistry

Research paper by Pascale Ehrenfreund

Indexed on: 01 Oct '99Published on: 01 Oct '99Published in: Space Science Reviews


The ISO-SWS instrument offering a large wavelength coverage and a resolution well adapted to the solid phase has changed our knowledge of the physical-chemical properties of ices in space. The discovery of many new ice features was reported and the comparison with dedicated laboratory experiments allowed the determination of more accurate abundances of major ice components. The presence of CO2 ice has recently been confirmed with the SWS (Short Wavelength Spectrometer) as a dominant ice component of interstellar grain mantles. The bending mode of CO2 ice shows a particular triple-peak structure which provides first evidence for extensive ice segregation in the line-of-sight toward massive protostars. A comparison of interstellar and cometary ices using recent ISO data and ground-based measurements has revealed important similarities but also indicated that comets contain, beside pristine interstellar material, admixtures of processed material. The investigation of molecules in interstellar clouds is essential to reveal the link between dust in the interstellar medium and in the Solar System.