A survey of the chemical properties of the M17 and Cepheus A cloud cores

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We present the results of a systematic survey of the chemical properties of two giant molecular cloud (GMC) cores in M17 and Cepheus A. In all, we have mapped the emission from 32 molecular transitions of 13 molecules and seven isotopic variants over a 4' × 5' region in each core. Each map includes known sites of massive star formation, as well as the more extended quiescent material. In M17 most molecules have emission peaks away from the H II region/molecular cloud interface, while two species, HC3N and CH3C2H, deviate from this structure with sharp maxima closer to this interface. In Cepheus A the core is influenced by a compact high-velocity molecular outflow and a more extended low-velocity flow. The molecular emission distributions in this source are generally quite similar, with most molecules peaking near the center of the core to the east of the compact H II region HW 2. A few molecules, SO, CH3OH, H13CN, and C18O, have more extended emission. Only two molecules, CO and HCO+, appear to trace the high- and low-velocity outflows; all other species are tracing the quiescent core.

We have used the results of previous studies of the density and temperature of the dense gas in the same cloud cores to derive accurate abundances relative to CO for several positions in each core. The principal result is that the chemical composition of all the cores we have surveyed (which include OMC-1 as well as M17 and Cepheus A) show remarkable similarity, both within a given core and among the cores. This suggests that the chemical processes are similar in quiescent GMC core material. In M17 the lack of variation of molecular abundances is remarkable because the radiation field and the gas temperature are known to vary appreciably throughout the surveyed region, suggesting that the bulk of the emission arises from gas that is well shielded from radiation.


The published version is located at http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/482/1/267







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