Deuteration of ammonia in the starless core Ophiuchus/H-MM1 - INSU - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers Access content directly
Journal Articles Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A Year : 2017

Deuteration of ammonia in the starless core Ophiuchus/H-MM1

J. Harju
  • Function : Author
O. Sipilä
  • Function : Author
P. Caselli
J. E. Pineda
  • Function : Author
R. K. Friesen
  • Function : Author
A. Punanova
  • Function : Author
R. Güsten
  • Function : Author
P. C. Myers
  • Function : Author
E. Rosolowsky
S. Schlemmer
  • Function : Author
Y. L. Shirley
  • Function : Author


Context. Ammonia and its deuterated isotopologues probe physical conditions in dense molecular cloud cores. The time-dependence of deuterium fractionation and the relative abundances of different nuclear spin modifications are supposed to provide a means of determining the evolutionary stages of these objects.
Aims: We aim to test the current understanding of spin-state chemistry of deuterated species by determining the abundances and spin ratios of NH2D, NHD2 and ND3 in a quiescent, dense cloud.
Methods: Spectral lines of NH3, NH2D, NHD2, ND3 and N2D+ were observed towards a dense, starless core in Ophiuchus with the APEX, GBT and IRAM 30-m telescopes. The observations were interpreted using a gas-grain chemistry model combined with radiative transfer calculations. The chemistry model distinguishes between the different nuclear spin states of light hydrogen molecules, ammonia and their deuterated forms. Different desorption schemes can be considered.
Results: High deuterium fractionation ratios with NH2D/NH3 0.4, NHD2/ NH2D 0.2 and ND3/ NHD2 0.06 are found in the core. The observed ortho/para ratios of NH2D and NHD2 are close to the corresponding nuclear spin statistical weights. The chemistry model can approximately reproduce the observed abundances, but consistently predicts too low ortho/para-NH2D, and too large ortho/para-NHD2 ratios. The longevity of N2H+ and NH3 in dense gas, which is prerequisite to their strong deuteration, can be attributed to the chemical inertia of N2 on grain surfaces.
Conclusions: The discrepancies between the chemistry model and the observations are likely to be caused by the fact that the model assumes complete scrambling in principal gas-phase deuteration reactions of ammonia, which means that all the nuclei are mixed in reactive collisions. If, instead, these reactions occur through proton hop/hydrogen abstraction processes, statistical spin ratios are to be expected. The present results suggest that while the deuteration of ammonia changes with physical conditions and time, the nuclear spin ratios of ammonia isotopologues do not probe the evolutionary stage of a cloud.

Based on observations carried out with The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX), the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), and the IRAM 30 m Telescope. APEX is a collaboration between Max-Planck Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR), Onsala Space Observatory (OSO), and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). GBT is managed by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. IRAM is supported by INSU/CNRS (France), MPG (Germany), and IGN (Spain).

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Dates and versions

insu-03692529 , version 1 (10-06-2022)



J. Harju, F. Daniel, O. Sipilä, P. Caselli, J. E. Pineda, et al.. Deuteration of ammonia in the starless core Ophiuchus/H-MM1. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, 2017, 600, ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201628463⟩. ⟨insu-03692529⟩
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