Volume 551, March 2013
|Number of page(s)||22|
|Section||Interstellar and circumstellar matter|
|Published online||18 February 2013|
Ortho-H2 and the age of prestellar cores⋆
LERMA, UMR 8112 du CNRS, Observatoire de Paris, 61, Av. de
2 LERMA, UMR 8112 du CNRS, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 24 rue Lhomond, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France
3 Institut de Chimie des Milieux et des Matériaux de Poitiers, UMR CNRS 6503, Université de Poitiers, 86022 Poitiers Cedex, France
4 Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Carnot de Bourgogne, UMR 6303 du CNRS, Université de Bourgogne, 21078 Dijon Cedex, France
5 UFR Sciences et Techniques, Université de Franche-Comté, 25030 Besançon Cedex, France
6 Instituto de Física Fundamental, CSIC, Serrano 123, 28006 Madrid, Spain
7 Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de Grenoble, UMR 5274 du CNRS, Université Joseph Fourier, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 09, France
Accepted: 28 November 2012
Prestellar cores form from the contraction of cold gas and dust material in dark clouds before they collapse to form protostars. Several concurrent theories exist to describe this contraction but they are currently difficult to distinguish. One major difference is the timescale involved in forming the prestellar cores: some theories advocate nearly free-fall speed via, e.g., rapid turbulence decay, while others can accommodate much longer periods to let the gas accumulate via, e.g., ambipolar diffusion. To tell the difference between these theories, measuring the age of prestellar cores could greatly help. However, no reliable clock currently exists. We present a simple chemical clock based on the regulation of the deuteration by the abundance of ortho–H2 that slowly decays away from the ortho-para statistical ratio of 3 down to or less than 0.001. We use a chemical network fully coupled to a hydrodynamical model that follows the contraction of a cloud, starting from uniform density, and reaches a density profile typical of a prestellar core. We compute the N2D+/N2H+ ratio along the density profile. The disappearance of ortho-H2 is tied to the duration of the contraction and the N2D+/N2H+ ratio increases in the wake of the ortho-H2 abundance decrease. By adjusting the time of contraction, we obtain different deuteration profiles that we can compare to the observations. Our model can test fast contractions (from 104 to 106 cm-3 in ~0.5 My) and slow contractions (from 104 to 106 cm-3 in ~5 My). We have tested the sensitivity of the models to various initial conditions. The slow-contraction deuteration profile is approximately insensitive to these variations, while the fast-contraction deuteration profile shows significant variations. We found that, in all cases, the deuteration profile remains clearly distinguishable whether it comes from the fast collapse or the slow collapse. We also study the para-D2H+/ortho-H2D+ ratio and find that its variation is not monotonic, so it does not discriminate between models. Applying this model to L183 (=L134N), we find that the N2D+/N2H+ ratio would be higher than unity for evolutionary timescales of a few megayears independently of other parameters, such as cosmic ray ionization rate or grain size (within reasonable ranges). A good fit to the observations is only obtained for fast contraction (≤0.7 My from the beginning of the contraction and ≤4 My from the birth of the molecular cloud based on the need to keep a high ortho-H2 abundance when the contraction starts – ortho-H2/para-H2 ≥ 0.2 – to match the observations). This chemical clock therefore rules out slow contraction in L183 and steady-state chemical models, since steady state is clearly not reached here. This clock should be applied to other cores to help distinguish slow and fast contraction theories over a large sample of cases.
Key words: astrochemistry / evolution / ISM: clouds / ISM: molecules / ISM: individual objects: L183 / ISM: abundances
Appendices are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2013
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.