NUCLEATION AND STABILIZATION OF CARBON-RICH STRUCTURES IN INTERSTELLAR MEDIA
N Patra and P Kral and HR Sadeghpour, ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 785, 6 (2014).
We study the conditions under which carbon clusters of different sizes form and stabilize. We describe the approach to equilibrium by simulating tenuous carbon gas dynamics to long times. First, we use reactive molecular dynamics simulations to describe the nucleation of long chains, large clusters, and complex cage structures in carbon- and hydrogen-rich interstellar gas phases. We study how temperature, particle density, the presence of hydrogen, and carbon inflow affect the nucleation of molecular moieties with different characteristics, in accordance with astrophysical conditions. We extend the simulations to densities that are orders of magnitude lower than current laboratory densities, to temperatures that are relevant to circumstellar environments of planetary nebulae, and microsecond formation times. We correlate cluster size distributions from the simulations with thermodynamic equilibrium at low temperatures and gas densities, where entropy plays a significant role.
Return to Publications page