The formaldehyde ortho para ratio as a probe of dark cloud chemistry and evolution
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We present measurements of the H2CO ortho/para ratio toward four star-forming cores, L723, L1228, L1527, and L43, and one quiescent core, L1498. Combining these data with earlier results by Minh et al., three quiescent cores are found to have ortho/para ratios near 3, the ratio of statistical weights expected for gas-phase formation processes. In contrast, ortho/para ratios are 1.5-2.1 in five star-forming cores, suggesting thermalization at a kinetic temperature of 10 K. We attribute modification of the ortho/para ratio in the latter cores to formation and/or equilibration of H2CO on grains with subsequent release back into the gas phase due to the increased energy inputs from the forming star and outflow. We see accompanying enhancements in the H2CO abundance relative to H2 to support this idea. The results suggest that the formaldehyde ortho/para ratio can differentiate between quiescent cores and those in which low-mass star formation has occurred.
Dickins, JE and Irvine, William M., "The formaldehyde ortho para ratio as a probe of dark cloud chemistry and evolution" (1999). ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL. 203.
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