The ALMA-PILS survey: First detection of Nitrous Acid (HONO) In The Interstellar Medium

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
March 11, 2019
Filed under
The ALMA-PILS survey: First detection of Nitrous Acid (HONO) In The Interstellar Medium
Nitrous Acid

Nitrogen oxides are thought to play a significant role as a nitrogen reservoir and to potentially participate in the formation of more complex species.

Until now, only NO, N2O and HNO have been detected in the interstellar medium. We report the first interstellar detection of nitrous acid (HONO). Twelve lines were identified towards component B of the low-mass protostellar binary IRAS~16293–2422 with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, at the position where NO and N2O have previously been seen. A local thermodynamic equilibrium model was used to derive the column density (∼ 9 × 1014 cm−2 in a 0.5” beam) and excitation temperature (∼ 100 K) of this molecule. HNO, NO2, NO+, and HNO3 were also searched for in the data, but not detected.

We simulated the HONO formation using an updated version of the chemical code Nautilus and compared the results with the observations. The chemical model is able to reproduce satisfactorily the HONO, N2O, and NO2 abundances, but not the NO, HNO, and NH2OH abundances. This could be due to some thermal desorption mechanisms being destructive and therefore limiting the amount of HNO and NH2OH present in the gas phase. Other options are UV photodestruction of these species in ices or missing reactions potentially relevant at protostellar temperatures.

A. Coutens, N. F. W. Ligterink, J.-C. Loison, V. Wakelam, H. Calcutt, M. N. Drozdovskaya, J. K. Jørgensen, H. S. P. Müller, E. F. van Dishoeck, S. F. Wampfler
(Submitted on 8 Mar 2019)

Comments: Accepted in A&A Letters
Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA)
Cite as: arXiv:1903.03378 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:1903.03378v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)
Submission history
From: Audrey Coutens [view email]
[v1] Fri, 8 Mar 2019 11:34:48 UTC (356 KB)
Astrobiology, Astrochemistry

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