Molecular freeze-out as a tracer of the thermal and dynamical evolution of pre- and protostellar cores
Leiden Observatory, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands e-mail: email@example.com
2 Stockholm Observatory, AlbaNova, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Accepted: 27 January 2005
Radiative transfer models of multi-transition observations are used to determine molecular abundances as functions of position in pre- and protostellar cores. The data require a “drop” abundance profile with radius, with high abundances in the outermost regions probed by low excitation 3 mm lines, and much lower abundances at intermediate zones probed by higher frequency lines. The results are illustrated by detailed analysis of CO and HCO+ lines for a subset of objects. We propose a scenario in which the molecules are frozen out in a region of the envelope where the temperature is low enough (40 K) to prevent immediate desorption, but where the density is high enough (>104–105 cm-3) that the freeze-out timescales are shorter than the lifetime of the core. The size of the freeze-out zone is thereby a record of the thermal and dynamical evolution of the cores. Fits to CO data for a sample of 16 objects indicate that the size of the freeze-out zone decreases significantly between class 0 and I objects, explaining the variations in, for example, CO abundances with envelope masses. However, the corresponding timescales are years, with no significant difference between class 0 and I objects. These timescales suggest that the dense pre-stellar phase with heavy depletions lasts only a short time, of the order of 105 yr, in agreement with recent chemical-dynamical models.
Key words: stars: formation / ISM: molecules / ISM: abundances
© ESO, 2005