The puzzling behavior of HNCO isomers in molecular clouds*
Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA), Laboratorio de Astrofísica Molecular,
Ctra de Ajalvir Km 4, 28850, Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, Spain e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
2 I. Physikalisches Institut, Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Str. 77, 50937 Köln, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Chemical Physics Program, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA e-mail: email@example.com
4 Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, LUTH UMR 8102, 5 Place Jules Janssen, F-92195 Meudon Cedex, France e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
5 Departments of Physics, Astronomy, and Chemistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA e-mail: email@example.com
6 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138, USA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 26 March 2010
Context. Isocyanic acid (HNCO) has been observed in different physical environments in the interstellar medium (ISM) and in external galaxies. HNCO has several metastable isomers with a ground electronic singlet state: HOCN, HCNO, and HONC. The recent detection of fulminic acid (HCNO) in prestellar and protostellar cores and cyanic acid (HOCN) in warm molecular sources (e.g. hot cores) in the Galactic center proves that these species could also be common constituents of the ISM.
Aims. To shed some light on the possible formation pathways of these species, we searched for HCNO in the sources where HOCN has been previously detected and vice versa. We have also included the low-mass protostar IRAS 16293-2422, where HNCO is found to be prominent.
Methods. Using the new EMIR receivers at the IRAM 30-m telescope, we performed deep searches for three rotational transitions of HOCN and four of HCNO.
Results. We report the detection of HOCN in four sources – three dense cores and the lukewarm corino L1527 – where HCNO has been previously observed. HOCN is tentatively detected toward the protostellar binary IRAS 16293-2422. However, HCNO has been detected neither in this source nor in the sources of the Galactic center where HOCN has been previously reported. The derived abundance ratios HCNO/HOCN are close to unity in quiescent clouds, while they are less than 0.01–0.1 in warm clouds. We attempt to explain these results by using both gas-phase and gas-grain chemical models.
Key words: astrochemistry / line: identification / ISM: abundances / ISM: clouds / ISM: molecules
© ESO, 2010