Efficient simulations of interstellar gas-grain chemistry using moment equations

Baruch Barzel*, Ofer Biham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Networks of reactions on dust-grain surfaces play a crucial role in the chemistry of interstellar clouds, leading to the formation of molecular hydrogen in diffuse clouds as well as various organic molecules in dense molecular clouds. Due to the submicron size of the grains and the low flux, the population of reactive species per grain may be very small and strongly fluctuating. Under these conditions rate equations fail, and the simulation of surface-reaction networks requires stochastic methods such as the master equation. However, the master equation becomes infeasible for complex networks because the number of equations proliferates exponentially. Here we introduce a method based on moment equations for the simulation of reaction networks on small grains. The number of equations is reduced to just one equation per reactive species and one equation per reaction. Nevertheless, the method provides accurate results, which are in excellent agreement with the master equation. The method is demonstrated for the methanol network that has been recently shown to be of crucial importance.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)L37-L40
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2007


  • Dust, extinction
  • ISM: molecules
  • Ism: abundances ISM: clouds
  • Molecular processes


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