Isocyanogen Formation In The Cold Interstellar Medium

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
April 16, 2019
Filed under
Isocyanogen Formation In The Cold Interstellar Medium

Cyanogen (NCCN) is the simplest member of the dicyanopolyynes group, and has been proposed as a major source of the CN radical observed in cometary atmospheres. Although not detected through its rotational spectrum in the cold interstellar medium, this very stable species is supposed to be very abundant.

The chemistry of cyanogen in the cold interstellar medium can be investigated through its metastable isomer, CNCN (isocyanogen). Its formation may provide a clue on the widely abundant CN radical observed in cometary atmospheres. We performed an unbiased spectral survey of the L1544 proto-typical prestellar core, using the IRAM-30m and have analysed, for this paper, the nitrogen chemistry that leads to the formation of isocyanogen. We report on the first detection of CNCN, NCCNH+, C3N, CH3CN, C2H3CN, and H2CN in L1544. We built a detailed chemical network for NCCN/CNCN/HC2N2+ involving all the nitrogen bearing species detected (CN, HCN, HNC, C3N, CNCN, CH3CN, CH2CN, HCCNC, HC3N, HNC3, H2CN, C2H3CN, HCNH+, HC3NH+) and the upper limits on C4N, C2N.

The main cyanogen production pathways considered in the network are the CN + HNC and N + C3N reactions. The comparison between the observations of the nitrogen bearing species and the predictions from the chemical modelling shows a very good agreement, taking into account the new chemical network. The expected cyanogen abundance is greater than the isocyanogen abundance by a factor of 100. Although cyanogen cannot be detected through its rotational spectrum, the chemical modelling predicts that it should be abundant in the gas phase and hence might be traced through the detection of isocyanogen. It is however expected to have a very low abundance on the grain surfaces compared to HCN.

Charlotte Vastel, Jean-Christophe Loison, Valentine Wakelam, Bertrand Lefloch
(Submitted on 16 Apr 2019)

Comments: accepted in A&A (March 2019)
Subjects: Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as: arXiv:1904.07570 [astro-ph.GA] (or arXiv:1904.07570v1 [astro-ph.GA] for this version)
Submission history
From: Charlotte Vastel
[v1] Tue, 16 Apr 2019 10:01:55 UTC (1,520 KB)
Astrobiology, Astrochemistry

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