Recent experimental results on the formation of molecular hydrogen on astrophysically relevant surfaces under conditions similar to those encountered in the interstellar medium provided useful quantitative information about these processes. Rate equation analysis of experiments on olivine and amorphous carbon surfaces provided the activation energy barriers for the diffusion and desorption processes relevant to hydrogen recombination on these surfaces. However, the suitability of rate equations for the simulation of hydrogen recombination on interstellar grains, where there might be very few atoms on a grain at any given time, has been questioned. To resolve this problem, we introduce a master equation that takes into account both the discrete nature of the H atoms and the fluctuations in the number of atoms on a grain. The hydrogen recombination rate on microscopic grains, as a function of grain size and temperature, is then calculated using the master equation. The results are compared to those obtained from the rate equations and the conditions under which the master equation is required are identified.
Vidali, Gianfranco; Biham, Ofer; Furman, Itay; and Pirronello, Valerio, "Master Equation for Hydrogen Recombination on Grain Surfaces" (2000). Physics. Paper 509.
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