Observations of the icy universe



  • Freeze-out of the gas-phase elements onto cold grains in dense interstellar and circumstellar media builds up ice mantles consisting of molecules that are mostly formed in situ (H2O, NH3, CO2, CO, CH3OH, and more). This review summarizes the detected infrared spectroscopic ice features and compares the abundances across Galactic, extragalactic, and Solar System environments. A tremendous amount of information is contained in the ice band profiles. Laboratory experiments play a critical role in the analysis of the observations. Strong evidence is found for distinct ice formation stages, separated by CO freeze-out at high densities. The ice bands have proven to be excellent probes of the thermal history of their environment. The evidence for the long-held idea that processing of ices by energetic photons and cosmic rays produces complex molecules is weak. Recent state-of-the-art observations show promise for much progress in this area with planned infrared facilities.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 541
  • End Page

  • 581
  • Volume

  • 53