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Title: An Interferometric View of H-MM1. I. Direct Observation of NH 3 Depletion
Abstract Spectral lines of ammonia, NH 3 , are useful probes of the physical conditions in dense molecular cloud cores. In addition to advantages in spectroscopy, ammonia has also been suggested to be resistant to freezing onto grain surfaces, which should make it a superior tool for studying the interior parts of cold, dense cores. Here we present high-resolution NH 3 observations with the Very Large Array and Green Bank Telescope toward a prestellar core. These observations show an outer region with a fractional NH 3 abundance of X (NH 3 ) = (1.975 ± 0.005) × 10 −8 (±10% systematic), but it also reveals that, after all, the X (NH 3 ) starts to decrease above a H 2 column density of ≈2.6 × 10 22 cm −2 . We derive a density model for the core and find that the break point in the fractional abundance occurs at the density n (H 2 ) ∼ 2 × 10 5 cm −3 , and beyond this point the fractional abundance decreases with increasing density, following the power law n −1.1 . This power-law behavior is well reproduced by chemical models where adsorption onto grains dominates the removal of ammonia and related species from the gas at high densities. We suggest that the break-point density changes from core to core depending on the temperature and the grain properties, but that the depletion power law is anyway likely to be close to n −1 owing to the dominance of accretion in the central parts of starless cores.  more » « less
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The Astronomical Journal
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Medium: X
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National Science Foundation
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Cores were then capped and transferred on ice to our laboratory at the University of South Florida (Tampa, Florida, USA), where they were combined in plastic zipper bags, and homogenized by hand into plot-level composite samples on the day they were collected. A damp soil subsample was immediately taken from each composite sample to initiate 1 y incubations for determination of active C and N (see below). The remainder of each composite sample was then placed in a drying oven (60 °C) for 1 week with frequent mixing of the soil to prevent aggregation and liberate water. Organic wetland soils are sometimes dried at 70 °C, however high drying temperatures can volatilize non-water liquids and oxidize and decompose organic matter, so 50 °C is also a common drying temperature for organic soils (Gardner 1986, "Methods of Soil Analysis: Part 1", Soil Science Society of America); we accordingly chose 60 °C as a compromise between sufficient water removal and avoidance of non-water mass loss. 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Filtrate was also analyzed for dissolved organic C (referred to hereafter as extractable organic C) and total dissolved N via combustion and oxidation followed by detection of the evolved CO_2 and N oxide gases on a Formacs HT TOC/TN analyzer (Skalar, Breda, The Netherlands). Extractable organic N was then computed as total dissolved N in filtrate minus extractable mineral N (itself the sum of extractable NH_4-N and NO_2-N + NO_3-N). We determined soil total C and N from dried, milled subsamples subjected to elemental analysis (ECS 4010, Costech, Inc., Valencia, CA, USA) at the University of South Florida Stable Isotope Laboratory. Median concentration of inorganic C in unvegetated surface soil at our sites is 0.5 % of soil mass (Anderson, 2019, Univ. of South Florida M.S. thesis via methods in Wang et al., 2011, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 174, 241-257). Inorganic C concentrations are likely even lower in our samples from under vegetation, where organic matter would dilute the contribution of inorganic C to soil mass. Nevertheless, the presence of a small inorganic C pool in our soils may be counted in the total C values we report. Extractable organic C is necessarily of organic C origin given the method (sparging with HCl) used in detection. Active C and N represent the fractions of organic C and N that are mineralizable by soil microorganisms under aerobic conditions in long-term soil incubations. To quantify active C and N, 60 g of field-moist soil were apportioned from each composite sample, placed in a filtration apparatus, and incubated in the dark at 25 °C and field capacity moisture for 365 d (as in Lewis et al., 2014, Ecosphere 5, art59). Moisture levels were maintained by frequently weighing incubated soil and wetting them up to target mass. 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Active N was then quantified as the total mass of mineral N leached and extracted. Mineral N in leached and extracted solutions was detected as NH_4-N and NO_2-N + NO_3-N via colorimetry as above. This incubation technique precludes new C and N inputs and persistently leaches mineral N, forcing microorganisms to meet demand by mineralizing existing pools, and thereby directly assays the potential activity of soil organic C and N pools present at the time of soil sampling. Because this analysis commences with disrupting soil physical structure, it is biased toward higher estimates of active fractions. Calculations. Non-mobile C and N fractions were computed as total C and N concentrations minus the extractable and active fractions of each element. 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