The abundance of HNCO and its use as a diagnostic of environment
Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, Alan Turing Building,
School of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Manchester,
Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK e-mail: G.Fuller@manchester.ac.uk
2 Astrophysics Research Centre, School of Mathematics and Physics, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, BT7 1NN, UK
Accepted: 22 September 2009
Aims. We aim to investigate the chemistry and gas phase abundance of HNCO and the variation of the HNCO/CS abundance ratio as a diagnostic of the physics and chemistry in regions of massive star formation.
Methods. A numerical-chemical model has been developed which self-consistently follows the chemical evolution of a hot core. The model comprises of two distinct stages. The first stage follows the isothermal, modified free-fall collapse of a molecular dark cloud. This is immediately followed by an increase in temperature which represents the switch on of a central massive star and the subsequent evolution of the chemistry in a hot, dense gas cloud (the hot core). During the collapse phase, gas species are allowed to accrete on to grain surfaces where they can participate in further reactions. During the hot core phase surface species thermally desorb back in to the ambient gas and further chemical evolution takes place. For comparison, the chemical network was also used to model a simple dark cloud and photodissociation regions.
Results. Our investigation reveals that HNCO is inefficiently formed when only gas-phase formation pathways are considered in the chemical network with reaction rates consistent with existing laboratory data. This is particularly true at low temperatures but also in regions with temperatures up to ~200 K. Using currently measured gas phase reaction rates, obtaining the observed HNCO abundances requires its formation on grain surfaces – similar to other “hot core” species such as CH3OH. However our model shows that the gas phase HNCO in hot cores is not a simple direct product of the evaporation of grain mantles. We also show that the HNCO/CS abundance ratio varies as a function of time in hot cores and can match the range of values observed. This ratio is not unambiguously related to the ambient UV field as been suggested – our results are inconsistent with the hypothesis of Martín et al. (2008, ApJ, 678, 245). In addition, our results show that this ratio is extremely sensitive to the initial sulphur abundance. We find that the ratio grows monotonically with time with an absolute value which scales approximately linearly with the S abundance at early times.
Key words: astrochemistry / stars: formation
© ESO, 2010