The ALMA-PILS survey: Detection of CH3NCO toward the low-mass protostar IRAS 16293-2422 and laboratory constraints on its formation
Journal article, 2017

Methyl isocyanate (CH3NCO) belongs to a select group of interstellar molecules
considered to be relevant precursors in the formation of larger organic compounds, including those with peptide bonds. The molecule has only been detected in a couple of high-mass protostars and potentially on comets. A formation route on icy grains has been postulated for this molecule but experimental evidence is lacking. Here we ex- tend the range of environments where methyl isocyanate is found, and unambiguously identify CH3NCO through the detection of 43 unblended transitions in the ALMA Protostellar Interferometric Line Survey (PILS) of the low mass solar-type protostel- lar binary IRAS 16293-2422. The molecule is detected toward both components of the binary with a ratio HNCO/CH3NCO ∼4–12. The isomers CH3CNO and CH3OCN are not identified, resulting in upper abundance ratios of CH3NCO/CH3CNO > 100 and CH3NCO/CH3OCN > 10. The resulting abundance ratios compare well with those found for related N-containing species toward high-mass protostars. To constrain its formation, a set of cryogenic UHV experiments is performed. VUV irradiation of CH4:HNCO mixtures at 20 K strongly indicate that methyl isocyanate can be formed in the solid-state through CH3 and (H)NCO recombinations. Combined with gas-grain models that include this reaction, the solid-state route is found to be a plausible sce- nario to explain the methyl isocyanate abundances found in IRAS 16293-2422.

Astrochemistry - ISM: individual objects: IRAS 16293-2422 - ISM: molecules - Methods: laboratory: molecular - Techniques: spectroscopic - Molecular processes


N. F. W. Ligterink

Leiden University

A. Coutens

University College London (UCL)

V. Kofman

Leiden University

H. S. P. Müller

University of Cologne

R. T. Garrod

University of Virginia

Hannah Calcutt

Galactic Astrophysics

S. F. Wampfler

University of Bern

J. K. Jørgensen

University of Copenhagen

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

0035-8711 (ISSN) 1365-2966 (eISSN)

Protostellar Interferometric Line Survey (PILS)

European Research Council (ERC), 2019-10-30 -- .

Subject Categories

Subatomic Physics

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology

Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics


Basic sciences

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