Using Methanol Beacons to Find Water in the Dark
Conference poster, 2013

Interstellar methanol is only formed efficiently from hydrogenation of CO molecules accreted onto grains, and icy grain mantles are observed to consist of 1-30% methanol relative to water. In regions of both low and high mass star formation gas-phase methanol abundances are consistent with partial or complete removal of the ices, either by thermal evaporation or by shock-induced sputtering in outflows. However, the widespread presence of gas-phase methanol in molecular clouds attests to some non-thermal desorption process at work. In particular, distinct peaks of methanol emission at positions significantly offset from protostellar activity implies a transient desorption process, such as clump-clump collisions, rather than a continuous one like photodesorption. Such processes are likely to disrupt a major part of the ice mantles and lead to high gas-phase water abundances clearly distinguishable from what is expected from photodesorption or steady-state gas-phase chemistry. We will report on the first detection of gas-phase water in a cold dark cloud - well offset from protostellar activity - resulting from a small scale survey with Herschel HIFI towards methanol peaks. Physical properties of the sources as well as implications for mantle desorption mechanisms and chemistry in dark clouds will be discussed and compared to those of active star formation.

ISM: individual (Barnard 5)

ISM: molecules

star formation




Eva Wirström

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics

S.B. Charnley

M.A. Cordiner

J.V. Buckle

Carina Persson

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics

The Universe Explored by Herschel, 15 – 18 October 2013, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Subject Categories

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


Basic sciences

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