Formation of Ethylene Glycol and Other Complex Organic Molecules in Star-forming Regions

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 28, 2016
Filed under
Formation of Ethylene Glycol and Other Complex Organic Molecules in Star-forming Regions

We study the molecular abundance and spatial distribution of the simplest sugar alcohol, ethylene glycol (EG), the simplest sugar glycoladehyde (GA), and other chemically related complex organic species towards the massive star-forming region G31.41+0.31.

We have analyzed multiple single dish and interferometric data, and obtained excitation temperatures and column densities using an LTE analysis. We have reported for the first time the presence of EG towards G31.41+0.31, and we have also detected multiple transitions of other complex organic molecules such as GA, methyl formate (MF), dimethyl ether (DME) and ethanol (ET). The high angular resolution images show that the EG emission is very compact, peaking towards the maximum of the continuum.

These observations suggest that low abundance complex organic molecules, like EG or GA, are good probes of the gas located closer to the forming stars. Our analysis confirms that EG is more abundant than GA in G31.41+0.31, as previously observed in other interstellar regions. Comparing different star-forming regions we find evidence of an increase of the EG/GA abundance ratio with the luminosity of the source.

The DME/MF and EG/ET ratios are nearly constant with luminosity. We have also found that the abundance ratios of pairs of isomers GA/MF and ET/DME decrease with the luminosity of the sources. The most likely explanation for the behavior of the EG/GA ratio is that these molecules are formed by different chemical formation routes not directly linked; although warm-up timescales effects and different formation and destruction efficiencies in the gas phase cannot be ruled out.

The most likely formation route of EG is by combination of two CH2OH radicals on dust grains. We also favor that GA is formed via the solid-phase dimerization of the formyl radical HCO, and a chemical link between MF and DME.

V. M. Rivilla, M. T. Beltrán, R. Cesaroni, F. Fontani, C. Codella, Q. Zhang
(Submitted on 26 Aug 2016)

Comments: Accepted for publication in A&A; 28 pages, 9 figures, 16 Tables
Subjects: Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as: arXiv:1608.07491 [astro-ph.GA] (or arXiv:1608.07491v1 [astro-ph.GA] for this version)
Submission history
From: Victor Manuel Rivilla
[v1] Fri, 26 Aug 2016 15:14:47 GMT (909kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻