EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 403, Number 2, May IV 2003
Page(s) L25 - L28
Section Letters
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030297

A&A 403, L25-L28 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030297


High NH $\mathsf{_2}$D/NH $\mathsf{_3}$ ratios in protostellar cores

J. Hatchell

Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
(Received 20 June 2002 / Accepted 1 March 2003)

Observations of low mass protostars which probe small enough size scales to be within likely CO depletion regions show the highest [ NH 2D] /[ NH 3] ratios yet measured, of 4-33%. These molecular D/H ratios are higher than those measured on larger scales, showing that deuterium fractionation increases towards protostellar cores. As in cold clouds, such high ratios can be produced by gas-phase ion-molecule chemistry in the presence of depletion. Grain surface chemistry is less likely to explain the deuterium enhancement, as it would require higher fractionation in ices than current models predict. The link between accretion, depletion and high molecular deuterium fractionation is strongly supported.

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