EDP Sciences
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Volume 457, Number 3, October III 2006
Page(s) 927 - 936
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20065560

A&A 457, 927-936 (2006)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20065560

Formation of methyl formate and other organic species in the warm-up phase of hot molecular cores

R. T. Garrod1 and E. Herbst1, 2

1  Department of Physics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
    e-mail: rgarrod@mps.ohio-state.edu
2  Departments of Astronomy and Chemistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

(Received 5 May 2006 / Accepted 10 July 2006 )

Aims.The production of saturated organic molecules in hot cores and corinos is not well understood. The standard approach is to assume that, as temperatures heat up during star formation, methanol and other species evaporate from grain surfaces and undergo a warm gas-phase chemistry at 100 K or greater to produce species such as methyl formate, dimethyl ether, and others. But a series of laboratory results shows that protonated ions, typical precursors to final products in ion-molecule schemes, tend to fragment upon dissociative recombination with electrons rather than just ejecting a hydrogen atom. Moreover, the specific proposed reaction to produce protonated methyl formate is now known not to occur at all.
Methods.We utilize a gas-grain chemical network to probe the chemistry of the relatively ignored stage of hot core evolution during which the protostar switches on and the temperature of the surrounding gas and dust rises from 10 K to over 100 K. During this stage, surface chemistry involving heavy radicals becomes more important as surface hydrogen atoms tend to evaporate rather than react.
Results.Our results show that complex species such as methyl formate, formic acid, and dimethyl ether can be produced in large abundance during the protostellar switch-on phase, but that both grain-surface and gas-phase processes help to produce most species. The longer the timescale for protostellar switch-on, the more important the surface processes.

Key words: astrochemistry -- stars: formation -- ISM: abundances -- ISM: clouds -- ISM: molecules

© ESO 2006