The c2d Spitzer Spectroscopic Survey Of Ices Around Low-Mass Young Stellar Objects. III. CH4
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CH4 is proposed to be the starting point of a rich organic chemistry. Solid CH4 abundances have previously been determined mostly toward high-mass star-forming regions. Spitzer IRS now provides a unique opportunity to probe solid CH4 toward low-mass star-forming regions as well. Infrared spectra from the Spitzer Space Telescope are presented to determine the solid CH4 abundance toward a large sample of low-mass young stellar objects. A total of 25 out of 52 ice sources in the "Cores to Disks'' (c2d) Legacy program have an absorption feature at 7.7 mu m, attributed to the bending mode of solid CH4. The solid CH4/H2O abundances are 2%-8%, except for three sources with abundances as high as 11%-13%. The latter sources have relatively large uncertainties due to small total ice column densities. Toward sources with H2O column densities above 2 x 10(18) cm(-2), the CH4 abundances (20 out of 25) are nearly constant at 4.7% +/- 1.6%. Correlation plots with solid H2O, CH3OH, CO2, and CO column densities and abundances relative to H2O reveal a closer relationship of solid CH4 with CO2 and H2O than with solid CO and CH3OH. The inferred solid CH4 abundances are consistent with models where CH4 is formed through sequential hydrogenation of C on grain surfaces. Finally, the equal or higher abundances toward low-mass young stellar objects compared with high-mass objects and the correlation studies support this formation pathway as well, but not the two competing theories: formation from CH3OH and formation in gas phase with subsequent freezeout.