Vol 24, No 1

Early Phases of Star Formation: Testing Chemical Tools

N. C. Martinez and S. Paron


Star-forming processes strongly influence the ISM chemistry. Nowadays, many high-quality databases are available at millimeter wavelengths. Using them, it is possible to carry out studies that review and deepen previous results. If these studies involve large samples of sources, it is preferred to use direct tools to study the molecular gas. With the aim of testing these tools such as the use of the HCN/HNC ratio as a thermometer, and the use of H13CO+, HC3N, N2H+ and C2H as "chemical clocks," we present a molecular line study toward 55 sources representing massive young stellar objects at different evolutionary stages: infrared dark clouds (IRDCs), high-mass protostellar objects (HMPOs), hot molecular cores (HMCs) and ultracompact H ii regions. We found that the use of the HCN/HNC ratio as a universal thermometer in the ISM should be taken with care because the HCN optical depth is a big issue that can affect the method. Hence, this tool should be utilized only after a careful analysis of the HCN spectrum, checking that no line, neither the main nor the hyperfine ones, presents absorption features. We point out that the analysis of the emission of H13CO+, HC3N, N2H+ and C2H could be useful to trace and distinguish regions among IRDCs, HMPOs and HMCs. The molecular line widths of these four species increase from the IRDC to the HMC stage, which can be a consequence of the gas dynamics related to the star-forming processes taking place in the molecular clumps. Our results not only contribute with more statistics, acting as a probe of such chemical tools, useful to obtain information in large samples of sources, but also complement previous works through the analysis of other types of sources.


Key words: stars: formation – ISM: molecules – ISM: clouds

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