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Detection of interstellar PN - The first phosphorus-bearing species observed in molecular clouds
Ziurys, L. M.
AA(Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory, Amherst, MA)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 2 - Letters to the Editor (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 321, Oct. 1, 1987, p. L81-L85. (ApJL Homepage)
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NASA/STI Keywords:
Interstellar Chemistry, Interstellar Matter, Molecular Clouds, Phosphorus Compounds, Astronomical Spectroscopy, Filter Wheel Infrared Spectrometers, Nitrides, Orion Constellation
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Phosphorus nitride (PN) has been detected in the interstellar medium. The J = 2-1, 3-2, 5-4, and 6-5 rotational lines of this species have been observed toward Orion-KL, and the J = 2-1 transition in Sgr B2 and W51. The PN line profiles in Orion indicate that the molecule's emission arises from the 'plateau' or 'doughnut' region associated with the outflow from IRc2. The species is thus primarily present in hot, dense gas. Column densities derived for PN toward Orion-KL are (3-4) x 10 to the 13th/sq cm, but may be as high as 10 to the 14th/sq cm, if the species is located in a 10-arcsec region. These column densities imply a fractional abundance for PN in the Orion 'plateau' of (1-4) x 10 to the -10th. Such a large abundance for PN is not predicted by quiescent cloud ion-molecule chemistry and suggests that high-temperature processes are responsible for the synthesis of PN in the KL outflow.

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