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Astronomy and Astrophysics


We report observations of the reactive molecular ions OH+, H2O+, and H3O+ towards Orion KL with Herschel/HIFI. All three N = 1-0 fine-structure transitions of OH+ at 909, 971, and 1033 GHz and both fine-structure components of the doublet ortho-H2O+ 111–000 transition at 1115 and 1139 GHz were detected; an upper limit was obtained for H3O+. OH+ and H2O+ are observed purely in absorption, showing a narrow component at the source velocity of 9 km s-1, and a broad blueshifted absorption similar to that reported recently for HF and para-H218O, and attributed to the low velocity outflow of Orion KL. We estimate column densities of OH+ and H2O+ for the 9 km s-1 component of 9 ± 3 × 1012 cm-2 and 7 ± 2 × 1012 cm-2, and those in the outflow of 1.9 ± 0.7 × 1013 cm-2 and 1.0 ± 0.3 × 1013 cm-2. Upper limits of 2.4 × 1012 cm-2 and 8.7 × 1012 cm-2 were derived for the column densities of ortho and para-H3O+ from transitions near 985 and 1657 GHz. The column densities of the three ions are up to an order of magnitude lower than those obtained from recent observations of W31C and W49N. The comparatively low column densities may be explained by a higher gas density despite the assumption of a very high ionization rate.