EARLY estimates of the maximum temperature, TM, of interstellar dust grains (IDGs) consistent with efficient H2 formation on their surface, yielded values near 10 K (refs 1–3). The expression for TM is where EH is the binding energy of hydrogen to the dust grain ≃ 400 K, S is the sticking coefficient of H on the grain ≃ 0.5, v is the average velocity of H atoms in the dust clouds ≃ 105 cm s−1, nH is the hydrogen density in the cloud ≃ 102 cm−3, A is the surface area of a dust grain ≃ 10−9cm2, and τ0 ≃ 6×10−13s. Observations have shown this TM to be unacceptably low (see, for example, refs 5 and 4), and have led to proposals of new or revised mechanisms for interstellar H2 formation5–9. Here we point out that for a certain class of gas–solid systems the characteristic desorption lifetime, τ0 , is many orders of magnitude longer than that used in refs 1–3. For grains made of these materials the original “physisorption model”1–3 will work for grain temperatures up to 30 K.
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COHEN, S. Molecular hydrogen formation on interstellar dust grains. Nature 261, 215–216 (1976). https://doi.org/10.1038/261215a0