- Ortho-to-para ratio of interstellar heavy water
- Astronomy & Astrophysics
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API)
Context. Despite the low elemental deuterium abundance in the Galaxy, enhanced molecular D/H ratios have been found in the environments of low-mass star-forming regions, and in particular the Class 0 protostar IRAS 16293-2422.
Aims. The CHESS (Chemical HErschel Surveys of Star forming regions) key program aims to study the molecular complexity of the interstellar medium. The high sensitivity and spectral resolution of the Herschel/HIFI instrument provide a unique opportunity to observe the fundamental 1(1,1)-0(0,0) transition of the ortho-D2O molecule, which is inaccessible from the ground, and determine the ortho-to-para D2O ratio.
Methods. We detected the fundamental transition of the ortho-D2O molecule at 607.35 GHz towards IRAS 16293-2422. The line is seen in absorption with a line opacity of 0.62 +/- 0.11 (1 sigma). From the previous ground-based observations of the fundamental 1(1,0)-1(0,1) transition of para-D2O seen in absorption at 316.80 GHz, we estimate a line opacity of 0.26 +/- 0.05 (1 sigma).
Results. We show that the observed absorption is caused by the cold gas in the envelope of the protostar. Using these new observations, we estimate for the first time the ortho-to-para D2O ratio to be lower than 2.6 at a 3 sigma level of uncertainty, which should be compared with the thermal equilibrium value of 2:1.
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- ID: 16
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