Eric Herbst

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

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Publications (533)2009.53 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We have used the Herschel-HIFI instrument to observe both nuclear spin symmetries of amidogen (NH2) towards the high-mass star-forming regions W31C (G10.6-0.4), W49N (G43.2-0.1), W51 (G49.5-0.4) and G34.3+0.1. The aim is to investigate the ratio of nuclear spin types, the ortho-to-para ratio (OPR), of NH2. The excited NH2 transitions are used to construct radiative transfer models of the hot cores and surrounding envelopes in order to investigate the excitation and possible emission of the ground state rotational transitions of ortho-NH2 N_(K_a,K_c} J=1_(1,1) 3/2 - 0_(0,0) 1/2 and para-NH2 2_(1,2) 5/2 - 1_(0,1) 3/2$ used in the OPR calculations. Our best estimate of the average OPR in the envelopes lie above the high temperature limit of three for W49N, specifically 3.5 with formal errors of \pm0.1, but for W31C, W51, and G34.3+0.1 we find lower values of 2.5\pm0.1, 2.7\pm0.1, and 2.3\pm0.1, respectively. Such low values are strictly forbidden in thermodynamical equilibrium since the OPR is expected to increase above three at low temperatures. In the translucent interstellar gas towards W31C, where the excitation effects are low, we find similar values between 2.2\pm0.2 and 2.9\pm0.2. In contrast, we find an OPR of 3.4\pm0.1 in the dense and cold filament connected to W51, and also two lower limits of >4.2 and >5.0 in two other translucent gas components towards W31C and W49N. At low temperatures (T \lesssim 50 K) the OPR of H2 is <10^-1, far lower than the terrestrial laboratory normal value of three. In such a ``para-enriched H2'' gas, our astrochemical models can reproduce the variations of the observed OPR, both below and above the thermodynamical equilibrium value, by considering nuclear-spin gas-phase chemistry. The models suggest that values below three arise in regions with temperatures >20-25 K, depending on time, and values above three at lower temperatures.
  • Kinsuk Acharyya · Eric Herbst ·
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    ABSTRACT: Using a new network and a new model, we have studied chemical complexity in cold portions of dense clouds of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). We varied the hydrogen number density between 1 × 105 and 5 × 105 cm-3 and, for each density, we ran models for AV = 3, 5, and 10. Then, for each density and visual extinction we varied the grain temperature between 10 and 50 K in small intervals, while keeping the gas temperature constant at 20 K. We used a gas-to-dust mass ratio based on a variety of observations and analyses, and scaled the elemental abundances of the LMC so that they are representative of so-called "low" metallic abundances. We found that although the LMC is metal-poor, it still shows a rich chemistry; almost all the major observed species in the gas phase of our Galaxy should be detectable using present-day observational facilities. We compared our model results with observed gas-phase abundances in some cold and dense sources, and found reasonably good agreement for most species. We also found that some observed results, especially for methanol, are better matched if these regions currently possess lower temperatures, or possessed them in the past. Finally, we discussed our simulated abundances for H2O ice with respect to total hydrogen, and CO2, CO, CH3OH, and NH3 ices with respect to water ice, and compared our values with those for two observed ices - CO2 and CO - detected in front of young stellar objects in the LMC. © 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2015; 812(2):142. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/812/2/142 · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the water deuteration ratio and ortho-to-para nuclear spin ratio of H2 (OPR(H2)) during the formation and early evolution of a molecular cloud, following the scenario that accretion flows sweep and accumulate HI gas to form molecular clouds. We follow the physical evolution of post-shock materials using a one-dimensional shock model, with post-processing gas-ice chemistry simulations. This approach allows us to study the evolution of the OPR(H2) and water deuteration ratio without an arbitrary assumption concerning the initial molecular abundances, including the initial OPR(H2). When the conversion of hydrogen into H2 is almost complete, the OPR(H2) is already much smaller than the statistical value of three due to the spin conversion in the gas phase. As the gas accumulates, the OPR(H2) decreases in a non-equilibrium manner. We find that water ice can be deuterium-poor at the end of its main formation stage in the cloud, compared to water vapor observed in the vicinity of low-mass protostars where water ice is likely sublimated. If this is the case, the enrichment of deuterium in water should mostly occur at somewhat later evolutionary stages of star formation, i.e., cold prestellar/protostellar cores. The main mechanism to suppress water ice deuteration in the cloud is the cycle of photodissociation and reformation of water ice, which efficiently removes deuterium from water ice chemistry. The removal efficiency depends on the main formation pathway of water ice. The OPR(H2) plays a minor role in water ice deuteration at the main formation stage of water ice.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 10/2015; DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201527050 · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Both grain surface and gas phase chemistry have been invoked to explain the disparate relative abundances of methyl formate and its structural isomers acetic acid and glycolaldehyde in the Sgr B2(N) star-forming region. While a network of grain surface chemistry involving radical–radical reactions during the warm-up phase of a hot core is the most chemically viable option proposed to date, neither qualitative nor quantitative agreement between modeling and observation has yet been obtained. In this study, we seek to test additional grain surface and gas phase processes to further investigate methyl formate-related chemistry by implementing several modifications to the Ohio State University gas/grain chemical network. We added two new gas phase chemical pathways leading to methyl formate, one involving an exothermic, barrierless reaction of protonated methanol with neutral formic acid; and one involving the reaction of protonated formic acid with neutral methanol to form both the cis and trans forms of protonated methyl formate. In addition to these gas phase processes, we have also investigated whether the relative product branching ratios for methanol photodissociation on grains influence the relative abundances of methyl formate and its structural isomers. We find that while the new gas phase formation pathways do not alter the relative abundances of methyl formate and its structural isomers, changes in the photodissociation branching ratios and adjustment of the overall timescale for warm-up can be used to explain their relative ratios in Sgr B2(N).
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2015; 728(1):71-9. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/728/1/71 · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Observations of deuterated species are essential to probing the properties and thermal history of various astrophysical environments, and the ALMA observing facilities will reveal a multitude of new deuterated molecules. To analyze these new vast data we have constructed a new up-to-date network with the largest collection of deuterium chemistry reactions to date. We assess the reliability of the network and probe the role of physical parameters and initial abundances on the chemical evolution of deuterated species. Finally, we perform a sensitivity study to assess the uncertainties in the estimated abundances and D/H ratios.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 08/2015; 10(H16):624-625. DOI:10.1017/S1743921314012538
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    ABSTRACT: We present chemical implications arising from spectral models fit to the Herschel/HIFI spectral survey toward the Orion Kleinmann-Low nebula (Orion KL). We focus our discussion on the eight complex organics detected within the HIFI survey utilizing a novel technique to identify those molecules emitting in the hottest gas. In particular, we find the complex nitrogen bearing species CH$_{3}$CN, C$_{2}$H$_{3}$CN, C$_{2}$H$_{5}$CN, and NH$_{2}$CHO systematically trace hotter gas than the oxygen bearing organics CH$_{3}$OH, C$_{2}$H$_{5}$OH, CH$_{3}$OCH$_{3}$, and CH$_{3}$OCHO, which do not contain nitrogen. If these complex species form predominantly on grain surfaces, this may indicate N-bearing organics are more difficult to remove from grain surfaces than O-bearing species. Another possibility is that hot (T$_{\rm kin}$$\sim$300 K) gas phase chemistry naturally produces higher complex cyanide abundances while suppressing the formation of O-bearing complex organics. We compare our derived rotation temperatures and molecular abundances to chemical models, which include gas-phase and grain surface pathways. Abundances for a majority of the detected complex organics can be reproduced over timescales $\gtrsim$ 10$^{5}$ years, with several species being under predicted by less than 3$\sigma$. Derived rotation temperatures for most organics, furthermore, agree reasonably well with the predicted temperatures at peak abundance. We also find that sulfur bearing molecules which also contain oxygen (i.e. SO, SO$_{2}$, and OCS) tend to probe the hottest gas toward Orion KL indicating the formation pathways for these species are most efficient at high temperatures.
    The Astrophysical Journal 06/2015; 806(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/806/2/239 · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report additional detections of the chloronium molecular ion, H$_2$Cl$^+$, toward four bright submillimeter continuum sources: G29.96, W49N, W51, and W3(OH). With the use of the HIFI instrument on the Herschel Space Observatory, we observed the $2_{12}-1_{01}$ transition of ortho-H$_2^{35}$Cl$^+$ at 781.627 GHz in absorption toward all four sources. Much of the detected absorption arises in diffuse foreground clouds that are unassociated with the background continuum sources and in which our best estimates of the $N({\rm H_2Cl^+})/N({\rm H})$ ratio lie in the range $(0.9 - 4.8) \times 10^{-9}$. These chloronium abundances relative to atomic hydrogen can exceed the predictions of current astrochemical models by up to a factor of 5. Toward W49N, we have also detected the $2_{12}-1_{01}$ transition of ortho-H$_2^{37}$Cl$^+$ at 780.053 GHz and the $1_{11}-0_{00}$ transition of para-H$_2^{35}$Cl$^+$ at 485.418 GHz. These observations imply $\rm H_2^{35}Cl^+/H_2^{37}Cl^+$ column density ratios that are consistent with the solar system $^{35}$Cl/$^{37}$Cl isotopic ratio of 3.1, and chloronium ortho-to-para ratios consistent with 3, the ratio of spin statistical weights.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2015; 807(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/807/1/54 · 5.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent laboratory experiments using a pulsed Laval nozzle apparatus have shown that reactions between a neutral molecule and the radical OH can occur efficiently at low temperatures despite activation energy barriers if there is a hydrogen-bonded complex in the entrance channel which allows the system to tunnel efficiently under the barrier. Since OH is a major radical in the interstellar medium, this class of reactions may well be important in the chemistry that occurs in the gas phase of interstellar clouds. Using a new gas-grain chemical network with both gas-phase reactions and reactions on the surfaces of dust particles, we studied the role of OH-neutral reactions in dense interstellar clouds at 10, 50, and 100 K. We determined that at least one of these reactions can be significant, especially at the lowest temperatures studied, where the rate constants are large. It was found in particular that the reaction between CH3OH and OH provides an effective and unambiguous gas-phase route to the production of the gaseous methoxy radical (CH3O), which has been recently detected in cold, dense interstsellar clouds. The role of other reactions in this class is explored.
    Molecular Physics 03/2015; 113(15):1-12. DOI:10.1080/00268976.2015.1021729 · 1.72 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Chemical models used to study the chemical composition of the gas and the ices in the interstellar medium are based on a network of chemical reactions and associated rate coefficients. These reactions and rate coefficients are partially compiled from data in the literature, when available. We present in this paper kida.uva.2014, a new updated version of the kida.uva public gas-phase network first released in 2012. In addition to a description of the many specific updates, we illustrate changes in the predicted abundances of molecules for cold dense cloud conditions as compared with the results of the previous version of our network, kida.uva.2011.
    The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 03/2015; 217(2). DOI:10.1088/0067-0049/217/2/20 · 11.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have observed five sulphur-bearing molecules in foreground diffuse molecular clouds lying along the sight-lines to five bright continuum sources. We have used the GREAT instrument on SOFIA to observe the 1383 GHz $^2\Pi_{3/2} J=5/2-3/2$ transitions of SH towards the star-forming regions W31C, G29.96-0.02, G34.3+0.1, W49N and W51, detecting foreground absorption towards all five sources; and the EMIR receivers on the IRAM 30m telescope at Pico Veleta to detect the H$_2$S 1(10)-1(01), CS J=2-1 and SO 3(2)-2(1) transitions. In nine foreground absorption components detected towards these sources, the inferred column densities of the four detected molecules showed relatively constant ratios, with N(SH)/N(H$_2$S) in the range 1.1 - 3.0, N(CS)/N(H$_2$S) in the range 0.32 - 0.61, and N(SO)/N(H$_2$S) in the range 0.08 - 0.30. The observed SH/H$_2$ ratios - in the range (0.5-2.6) $\times 10^{-8}$ - indicate that SH (and other sulphur-bearing molecules) account for << 1% of the gas-phase sulphur nuclei. The observed abundances of sulphur-bearing molecules, however, greatly exceed those predicted by standard models of cold diffuse molecular clouds, providing further evidence for the enhancement of endothermic reaction rates by elevated temperatures or ion-neutral drift. We have considered the observed abundance ratios in the context of shock and turbulent dissipation region (TDR) models. Using the TDR model, we find that the turbulent energy available at large scale in the diffuse ISM is sufficient to explain the observed column densities of SH and CS. Standard shock and TDR models, however, fail to reproduce the column densities of H$_2$S and SO by a factor of about 10; more elaborate shock models - in which account is taken of the velocity drift, relative to H$_2$, of SH molecules produced by the dissociative recombination of H$_3$S$^+$ - reduce this discrepancy to a factor ~ 3.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 02/2015; 577. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201425391 · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    Ugo Hincelin · Qiang Chang · Eric Herbst ·
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    ABSTRACT: Water is usually the main component of ice mantles, which cover the cores of dust grains in cold portions of dense interstellar clouds. When molecular hydrogen is adsorbed onto an icy mantle through physisorption, a common assumption in gas-grain rate equation models is to use an adsorption energy for molecular hydrogen on a pure water substrate. However, at high density and low temperature, when H2 is efficiently adsorbed onto the mantle, its surface abundance can be strongly overestimated if this assumption is still used. Unfortunately, the more detailed microscopic Monte Carlo treatment cannot be used to study the abundance of H2 in ice mantles if a full gas-grain network is utilized. We present a numerical method adapted for rate-equation models that takes into account the possibility that an H2 molecule can, while diffusing on the surface, find itself bound to another hydrogen molecule, with a far weaker bond than the H2-water bond, which can lead to more efficient desorption. We label the ensuing desorption "encounter desorption". The method is implemented first in a simple system consisting only of hydrogen molecules at steady state between gas and dust using the rate-equation approach and comparing the results with the results of a microscopic Monte Carlo calculation. We then discuss the use of the rate-equation approach with encounter desorption embedded in a complete gas-grain chemical network. For both systems, the rate-equation model with encounter desorption reproduces the H2 granular coverage computed by the microscopic Monte Carlo model. The method is especially useful for dense and cold environments, and for time-dependent physical conditions, such as occur in the collapse of dense cores and the formation of protoplanetary disks. It is not significantly CPU time consuming, so can be used for example with complex 3D chemical-hydrodynamical simulations.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 10/2014; 574. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201424807 · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present 0.8-mm band molecular images and spectra obtained with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) toward one of the nearest galaxies with an active galactic nucleus (AGN), NGC 1068. Distributions of CO isotopic species (13CO and C18O) J = 3–2, CN N = 3–2, and CS J = 7–6 are observed toward the circumnuclear disk (CND) and a part of the starburst ring with an angular resolution of ∼ 1${^{\prime\prime}_{.}}$3 × 1${^{\prime\prime}_{.}}$2. The physical properties of these molecules and shock-related molecules, such as HNCO, CH3CN, SO, and CH3OH, detected in the 3-mm band were estimated using rotation diagrams under the assumption of local thermodynamic equilibrium. The rotational temperatures of the CO isotopic species and the shock-related molecules in the CND are, respectively, 14–22 K and upper limits of 20–40 K. Although the column densities of the CO isotopic species in the CND are only from one-fifth to one-third of that in the starburst ring, those of the shock-related molecules are enhanced by a factor of 3–10 in the CND. We also discuss the chemistry of each species, and compare the fractional abundances in the CND and starburst ring with those of Galactic sources such as cold cores, hot cores, and shocked molecular clouds in order to study the overall characteristics. We find that the abundances of shock-related molecules are more similar to abundances in hot cores and/or shocked clouds than to cold cores. The CND hosts relatively complex molecules, which are often associated with shocked molecular clouds or hot cores. Because a high X-ray flux can dissociate these molecules, they must also reside in regions shielded from X-rays.
    Publications- Astronomical Society of Japan 10/2014; 67(1). DOI:10.1093/pasj/psu136 · 2.07 Impact Factor
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    Faraday Discussions 10/2014; 168:423 - 448. · 4.61 Impact Factor
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    Faraday Discussions 10/2014; 168:129-150. DOI:10.1039/C4FD90001D · 4.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding water deuterium fractionation is important for constraining the mechanisms of water formation in interstellar clouds. Observations of HDO and H$_2^{18}$O transitions were carried out towards the high-mass star-forming region G34.26+0.15 with the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI) instrument onboard the Herschel Space Observatory, as well as with ground-based single-dish telescopes. 10 HDO lines and three H$_2^{18}$O lines covering a broad range of upper energy levels (22–204 K) were detected. We used a non-local thermal equilibrium 1D analysis to determine the HDO/H2O ratio as a function of radius in the envelope. Models with different water abundance distributions were considered in order to reproduce the observed line profiles. The HDO/H2O ratio is found to be lower in the hot core (∼3.5 × 10−4–7.5 × 10−4) than in the colder envelope (∼1.0 × 10−3–2.2 × 10−3). This is the first time that a radial variation of the HDO/H2O ratio has been found to occur in a high-mass source. The chemical evolution of this source was modelled as a function of its radius and the observations are relatively well reproduced. The comparison between the chemical model and the observations leads to an age of ∼105 yr after the infrared dark cloud stage.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 09/2014; 445(2). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu1816 · 5.11 Impact Factor
  • Eric Herbst ·
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    ABSTRACT: In this closing article, we first introduce the topics of dust and ice chemistry and their role in astrochemistry. We then discuss the invited contributions and discussions concerning these topics, dividing the papers into groupings by subject: (i) astronomical sources, (ii) basic properties of dust, (iii) processes on bare grains, (iv) processes on and in ice mantles, and (v) complex organic molecules. A sample of poster contributions is included in the text, when they complement the discussion. The article ends with some suggestions for future research.
    Faraday Discussions 07/2014; 168. DOI:10.1039/C4FD00104D · 4.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sensitive observations with ALMA allow astronomers to observe the detailed distributions of molecules with relatively weak intensity in nearby galaxies. In particular, we report distributions of several molecular transitions including shock and dust related species ($^{13}$CO $J$ = 1--0, C$^{18}$O $J$ = 1--0, $^{13}$CN $N$ = 1--0, CS $J$ = 2--1, SO $J_N$ = 3$_2$--2$_1$, HNCO $J_{Ka,Kc}$ = 5$_{0,5}$--4$_{0,4}$, HC$_3$N $J$ = 11--10, 12--11, CH$_3$OH $J_K$ = 2$_K$--1$_K$, and CH$_3$CN $J_K$ = 6$_K$--5$_K$) in the nearby Seyfert 2 galaxy NGC 1068 observed with the ALMA early science program. The central $\sim$1 arcmin ($\sim$4.3 kpc) of this galaxy was observed in the 100 GHz region covering $\sim$96--100 GHz and $\sim$108--111 GHz with an angular resolution of $\sim4"\times2"$ (290 pc$\times$140 pc) to study the effects of an active galactic nucleus and its surrounding starburst ring on molecular abundances. Here, we present images and report a classification of molecular distributions into three main categories: (1) Molecules concentrated in the circumnuclear disk (CND) (SO $J_N$ = 3$_2$--2$_1$, HC$_3$N $J$ = 11--10, 12--11, and CH$_3$CN $J_K$ = 6$_K$--5$_K$), (2) Molecules distributed both in the CND and the starburst ring (CS $J$ = 2--1 and CH$_3$OH $J_K$ = 2$_K$--1$_K$), (3) Molecules distributed mainly in the starburst ring ($^{13}$CO $J$ = 1--0 and C$^{18}$O $J$ = 1--0). Since most of the molecules such as HC$_3$N observed in the CND are easily dissociated by UV photons and X-rays, our results indicate that these molecules must be effectively shielded. In the starburst ring, the relative intensity of methanol at each clumpy region is not consistent with those of $^{13}$CO, C$^{18}$O, and CS. This difference is probably caused by the unique formation and destruction mechanisms of CH$_3$OH.
    Publications- Astronomical Society of Japan 07/2014; 66(4):id. 75. DOI:10.1093/pasj/psu052 · 2.07 Impact Factor
  • S T Bromley · T P M Goumans · E Herbst · A P Jones · B Slater ·
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    ABSTRACT: Studies aiming to understand the physicochemical properties of interstellar dust and the chemical reactions that occur on and in it have traditionally been the preserve of astronomical observation and experimental attempts to mimic astronomically relevant conditions in the laboratory. Increasingly, computational modelling in its various guises is establishing a complementary third pillar of support to this endeavour by providing detailed insights into the complexities of interstellar dust chemistry. Inherently, the basis of computational modelling is to be found in the details (e.g. atomic structure/composition, reaction barriers) that are difficult to probe accurately from observation and experiment. This bottom-up atom-based theoretical approach, often itself based on deeper quantum mechanical principles, although extremely powerful, also has limitations when systems become too large or complex. In this Perspective, after first providing a general background to the current state of observational-based knowledge, we introduce a number of computational modelling methods with reference to recent state-of-the-art studies, in order to highlight the capabilities of such approaches in this field. Specifically, we first outline the use of computational chemistry methods for dust nucleation, structure, and individual reactions on bare and icy dust surfaces. Later, we review kinetic modelling of networks of reactions relevant to dust chemistry and how to take into account quantum tunnelling effects in the low temperature reactions in the interstellar medium. Finally, we point to the future challenges that need to be overcome for computational modelling to provide even more detailed and encompassing perspectives on the nature and reaction chemistry of interstellar dust.
    Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 06/2014; 16(35). DOI:10.1039/c4cp00774c · 4.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: (Abridged) The birth environment of the Sun will have influenced the conditions in the pre-solar nebula, including the attainable chemical complexity, important for prebiotic chemistry. The formation and distribution of complex organic molecules (COMs) in a disk around a T Tauri star is investigated for two scenarios: (i) an isolated disk, and (ii) a disk irradiated externally by a nearby massive star. The chemistry is calculated along the accretion flow from the outer disk inwards using a comprehensive network. Two simulations are performed, one beginning with complex ices and one with simple ices only. For the isolated disk, COMs are transported without major alteration into the inner disk where they thermally desorb into the gas reaching an abundance representative of the initial assumed ice abundance. For simple ices, COMs efficiently form on grain surfaces under the conditions in the outer disk. Gas-phase COMs are released into the molecular layer via photodesorption. For the irradiated disk, complex ices are also transported inwards; however, they undergo thermal processing caused by the warmer conditions in the irradiated disk which tends to reduce their abundance along the accretion flow. For simple ices, grain-surface chemistry cannot synthesise COMs in the outer disk because the necessary grain-surface radicals, which tend to be particularly volatile, are not sufficiently abundant on the grain surfaces. Gas-phase COMs are formed in the inner region of the irradiated disk via gas-phase chemistry induced by the desorption of strongly bound molecules such as methanol; hence, the abundances are not representative of the initial molecular abundances injected into the outer disk. These results suggest that the composition of comets formed in isolated disks may differ from those formed in externally irradiated disks with the latter composed of more simple ices.
    Faraday Discussions 06/2014; 168. DOI:10.1039/C3FD00135K · 4.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The understanding of interstellar nitrogen chemistry has improved significantly with recent results from the Herschel Space Observatory. To set even better constraints, we report here on deep searches for the NH+ ground state rotational transition J=1.5-0.5 of the ^2Pi_1/2 lower spin ladder, with fine-structure transitions at 1013 and 1019 GHz, and the para-NH2- 1_1,1-0_0,0 rotational transition at 934 GHz towards Sgr B2(M) and G10.6-0.4 using Herschel-HIFI. No clear detections of NH+ are made and the derived upper limits are <2*10^-12 and <7*10^-13 in Sgr B2(M) and G10.6-0.4, respectively. The searches are complicated by the fact that the 1013 GHz transition lies only -2.5 km/s from a CH2NH line, seen in absorption in Sgr B2(M), and that the hyperfine structure components in the 1019 GHz transition are spread over 134 km/s. Searches for the so far undetected NH2- anion turned out to be unfruitful towards G10.6-0.4, while the para-NH2- 1_1,1-0_0,0 transition was tentatively detected towards Sgr B2(M) at a velocity of 19 km/s. Assuming that the absorption occurs at the nominal source velocity of +64 km/s, the rest frequency would be 933.996 GHz, offset by 141 MHz from our estimated value. Using this feature as an upper limit, we found N(p-NH2-)<4*10^11 cm^-2. The upper limits for both species in the diffuse line-of-sight gas are less than 0.1 to 2 % of the values found for NH, NH2, and NH3 towards both sources. Chemical modelling predicts an NH+ abundance a few times lower than our present upper limits in diffuse gas and under typical Sgr B2(M) envelope conditions. The NH2- abundance is predicted to be several orders of magnitudes lower than our observed limits, hence not supporting our tentative detection. Thus, while NH2- may be very difficult to detect in interstellar space, it could, be possible to detect NH+ in regions where the ionisation rates of H2 and N are greatly enhanced.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 05/2014; 567:130. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201423748 · 4.38 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

13k Citations
2,009.53 Total Impact Points


  • 2011-2015
    • University of Virginia
      • Department of Chemistry
      Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
  • 1991-2015
    • The Ohio State University
      • • Department of Physics
      • • Department of Astronomy
      Columbus, Ohio, United States
  • 2007-2014
    • Leiden University
      • Leiden Observartory
      Leyden, South Holland, Netherlands
  • 1989-2010
    • University of Cologne
      • I. Institute of Physics
      Köln, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2009
    • University of Toledo
      Toledo, Ohio, United States
  • 2008
    • Université Bordeaux 1
      • UMR LAB - Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeaux
      Talence, Aquitaine, France
  • 1981-2006
    • Duke University
      • Department of Physics
      Durham, NC, United States
  • 1994
    • University of New Brunswick
      • Department of Physics
      Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
  • 1990
    • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
      Troy, New York, United States
  • 1988-1989
    • University of Birmingham
      • School of Physics and Astronomy
      Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
    • Queen's University Belfast
      Béal Feirste, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
  • 1987
    • The University of Manchester
      Manchester, England, United Kingdom
  • 1975-1981
    • College of William and Mary
      • Department of Chemistry
      Williamsburg, Virginia, United States
  • 1974-1976
    • University of Colorado at Boulder
      • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
      Boulder, Colorado, United States
  • 1972-1976
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States