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  1. 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%more »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.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 27, 2023
  2. Abstract Prestellar cores represent the initial conditions in the process of star and planet formation. Their low temperatures (<10 K) allow the formation of thick icy dust mantles, which will be partially preserved in future protoplanetary disks, ultimately affecting the chemical composition of planetary systems. Previous observations have shown that carbon- and oxygen-bearing species, in particular CO, are heavily depleted in prestellar cores due to the efficient molecular freeze-out onto the surface of cold dust grains. However, N-bearing species such as NH 3 and, in particular, its deuterated isotopologues appear to maintain high abundances where CO molecules are mainly inmore »the solid phase. Thanks to ALMA, we present here the first clear observational evidence of NH 2 D freeze-out toward the L1544 prestellar core, suggestive of the presence of a “complete depletion zone” within a ≃1800 au radius, in agreement with astrochemical prestellar core model predictions. Our state-of-the-art chemical model coupled with a non-LTE radiative transfer code demonstrates that NH 2 D becomes mainly incorporated in icy mantles in the central 2000 au and starts freezing out already at ≃7000 au. Radiative transfer effects within the prestellar core cause the NH 2 D(1 11 − 1 01 ) emission to appear centrally concentrated, with a flattened distribution within the central ≃3000 au, unlike the 1.3 mm dust continuum emission, which shows a clear peak within the central ≃1800 au. This prevented NH 2 D freeze-out from being detected in previous observations, where the central 1000 au cannot be spatially resolved.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  3. Context. Stars form in cold dense cores showing subsonic velocity dispersions. The parental molecular clouds display higher temperatures and supersonic velocity dispersions. The transition from core to cloud has been observed in velocity dispersion, but temperature and abundance variations are unknown. Aims. We aim to measure the temperature and velocity dispersion across cores and ambient cloud in a single tracer to study the transition between the two regions. Methods. We use NH 3 (1,1) and (2,2) maps in L1688 from the Green Bank Ammonia Survey, smoothed to 1′, and determine the physical properties by fitting the spectra. We identify themore »coherent cores and study the changes in temperature and velocity dispersion from the cores to the surrounding cloud. Results. We obtain a kinetic temperature map extending beyond dense cores and tracing the cloud, improving from previous maps tracing mostly the cores. The cloud is 4–6 K warmer than the cores, and shows a larger velocity dispersion (Δ σ v = 0.15–0.25 km s −1 ). Comparing to Herschel -based dust temperatures, we find that cores show kinetic temperatures that are ≈1.8 K lower than the dust temperature, while the gas temperature is higher than the dust temperature in the cloud. We find an average p-NH 3 fractional abundance (with respect to H 2 ) of (4.2 ± 0.2) × 10 −9 towards the coherent cores, and (1.4 ± 0.1) × 10 −9 outside the core boundaries. Using stacked spectra, we detect two components, one narrow and one broad, towards cores and their neighbourhoods. We find the turbulence in the narrow component to be correlated with the size of the structure (Pearson- r = 0.54). With these unresolved regional measurements, we obtain a turbulence–size relation of σ v,NT ∝ r 0.5 , which is similar to previous findings using multiple tracers. Conclusions. We discover that the subsonic component extends up to 0.15 pc beyond the typical coherent boundaries, unveiling larger extents of the coherent cores and showing gradual transition to coherence over ~0.2 pc.« less
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  5. ABSTRACT The role played by magnetic field during star formation is an important topic in astrophysics. We investigate the correlation between the orientation of star-forming cores (as defined by the core major axes) and ambient magnetic field directions in (i) a 3D magnetohydrodynamic simulation, (ii) synthetic observations generated from the simulation at different viewing angles, and (iii) observations of nearby molecular clouds. We find that the results on relative alignment between cores and background magnetic field in synthetic observations slightly disagree with those measured in fully 3D simulation data, which is partly because cores identified in projected 2D maps tendmore »to coexist within filamentary structures, while 3D cores are generally more rounded. In addition, we examine the progression of magnetic field from pc to core scale in the simulation, which is consistent with the anisotropic core formation model that gas preferably flows along the magnetic field towards dense cores. When comparing the observed cores identified from the Green Bank Ammonia Survey and Planck polarization-inferred magnetic field orientations, we find that the relative core–field alignment has a regional dependence among different clouds. More specifically, we find that dense cores in the Taurus molecular cloud tend to align perpendicular to the background magnetic field, while those in Perseus and Ophiuchus tend to have random (Perseus) or slightly parallel (Ophiuchus) orientations with respect to the field. We argue that this feature of relative core–field orientation could be used to probe the relative significance of the magnetic field within the cloud.« less
  6. Abstract We have obtained sensitive dust continuum polarization observations at 850 μ m in the B213 region of Taurus using POL-2 on SCUBA-2 at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope as part of the B -fields in STar-forming Region Observations (BISTRO) survey. These observations allow us to probe magnetic field ( B -field) at high spatial resolution (∼2000 au or ∼0.01 pc at 140 pc) in two protostellar cores (K04166 and K04169) and one prestellar core (Miz-8b) that lie within the B213 filament. Using the Davis–Chandrasekhar–Fermi method, we estimate the B -field strengths in K04166, K04169, and Miz-8b to be 38more »± 14, 44 ± 16, and 12 ± 5 μ G, respectively. These cores show distinct mean B -field orientations. The B -field in K04166 is well ordered and aligned parallel to the orientations of the core minor axis, outflows, core rotation axis, and large-scale uniform B -field, in accordance with magnetically regulated star formation via ambipolar diffusion taking place in K04166. The B -field in K04169 is found to be ordered but oriented nearly perpendicular to the core minor axis and large-scale B -field and not well correlated with other axes. In contrast, Miz-8b exhibits a disordered B -field that shows no preferred alignment with the core minor axis or large-scale field. We found that only one core, K04166, retains a memory of the large-scale uniform B -field. The other two cores, K04169 and Miz-8b, are decoupled from the large-scale field. Such a complex B -field configuration could be caused by gas inflow onto the filament, even in the presence of a substantial magnetic flux.« less

    We present the first results of high-spectral resolution (0.023 km s−1) N2H+ observations of dense gas dynamics at core scales (∼0.01 pc) using the recently commissioned Argus instrument on the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). While the fitted linear velocity gradients across the cores measured in our targets nicely agree with the well-known power-law correlation between the specific angular momentum and core size, it is unclear if the observed gradients represent core-scale rotation. In addition, our Argus data reveal detailed and intriguing gas structures in position–velocity (PV) space for all five targets studied in this project, which could suggest that the velocity gradientsmore »previously observed in many dense cores actually originate from large-scale turbulence or convergent flow compression instead of rigid-body rotation. We also note that there are targets in this study with their star-forming discs nearly perpendicular to the local velocity gradients, which, assuming the velocity gradient represents the direction of rotation, is opposite to what is described by the classical theory of star formation. This provides important insight on the transport of angular momentum within star-forming cores, which is a critical topic on studying protostellar disc formation.

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