A Caltech Library Service

Molecular abundances in OMC-1: The chemical composition of interstellar molecular clouds and the influence of massive star formation

Blake, Geoffrey A. and Sutton, E. C. and Masson, C. R. and Phillips, T. G. (1987) Molecular abundances in OMC-1: The chemical composition of interstellar molecular clouds and the influence of massive star formation. Astrophysical Journal, 315 (2). pp. 621-645. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1086/165165.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


We present here an investigation of the chemical composition of the various regions in the core of the Orion molecular cloud (OMC-1) based on results from the Caltech Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO) millimeter-wave spectral line survey (Sutton et al.; Blake et al.). This survey covered a 55 GHz interval in the 1.3 mm (230 GHz) atmospheric window and contained emission from over 800 resolved spectral features. Of the 29 identified species 14 have a sufficient number of detected transitions to be investigated with an LTE "rotation diagram" technique, in which large numbers of lines are used to estimate both the rotational excitation and the overall abundance. The rotational temperatures and column densities resulting from these fits have then been used to model the emission from those remaining species which either have too few lines or which are too weak to be so analyzed. When different kinematic sources of emission are blended to produce a single feature, Gaussian fits have been used to derive the individual contributions to the total line profile. The uniformly calibrated data in the unique and extensive Caltech spectral line survey lead to accurate estimates of the chemical and physical parameters of the Orion molecular cloud, and place significant constraints on models of interstellar chemistry. A global analysis of the observed abundances shows that the markedly different chemical compositions of the kinematically and spatially distinct Orion subsources may be interpreted in the framework of an evolving, initially quiescent, gas-phase chemistry influenced by the process of massive star formation. The chemical composition of the extended Orion cloud complex is similar to that found in a number of other objects, but the central regions of OMC-1 have had their chemistry selectively altered by the radiation and high-velocity outflow from the young stars embedded deep within the interior of the molecular cloud. Specifically, the extended ridge clouds are inferred to have a low (subsolar) gas-phase oxygen content from the prevalence of reactive carbon-rich species like CN, CCH, and C_3H_2 also found in more truly quiescent objects such as TMC-1. The similar abundances of these and other simple species in clouds like OMC-1, Sgr B2, and TMC-1 lend support to gas-phase ion-molecule models of interstellar chemistry, but grain processes may also play a significant role in maintaining the overall chemical balance in such regions through selective depletion mechanisms and grain mantle processing. In contrast, the chemical compositions of the more turbulent plateau and hot core components of OMC-1 are dominated by high-temperature, shock-induced gas and grain surface neutral-neutral reaction processes. The high silicon/sulfur oxide and water content of the plateau gas is best modeled by fast shock disruption of smaller grain cores to release the more refractory elements followed by a predominantly neutral chemistry in the cooling postshock regions, while a more passive release of grain mantle products driven toward kinetic equilibrium most naturally explains the prominence of fully hydrogenated N-containing species like HCN, NH_3 , CH_3CN, and C_2H_5CN in the hot core. The clumpy nature of the outflow is illustrated by the high-velocity emission observed from easily decomposed molecules such as H_2CO. Areas immediately adjacent to the shocked core in which the cooler, ion-rich gas of the surrounding molecular cloud is mixed with water/oxygen rich gas from the plateau source are proposed to give rise to the enhanced abundances of complex internal rotors such as CH_30H, HCOOCH_3 , and CH_30CH_3 whose line widths are similar to carbon-rich species such as CN and CCH found in the extended ridge, but whose rotational temperatures are somewhat higher and whose spatial extents are much more compact.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Blake, Geoffrey A.0000-0003-0787-1610
Additional Information:© 1987 American Astronomical Society. Provided by the NASA Astrophysics Data System. Received 1986 August 8; accepted 1986 October 1. The authors would like to thank Dave Woody and Steve Scott for their assistance with the extensive observations required to complete the OVRO line survey, and also Dan Watson for many helpful discussions. One of us (G. A. B.) gratefully acknowledges financial support provided by the Miller Research Foundation. Single-dish astronomy at the Owens Valley Observatory is supported by NSF grants AST-8214693 and 8311849.
Group:Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO), Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Miller Institute for Basic Research in ScienceUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:interstellar: abundances; interstellar: molecules; molecular processes; stars: formation
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120912-083357172
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Molecular abundances in OMC-1 - The chemical composition of interstellar molecular clouds and the influence of massive star formation Blake, Geoffrey A.; Sutton, E. C.; Masson, C. R.; Phillips, T. G.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:34014
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:12 Sep 2012 16:04
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:06

Repository Staff Only: item control page