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  1. ABSTRACT

    Methylamine has been the only simple alkylamine detected in the interstellar medium for a long time. With the recent secure and tentative detections of vinylamine and ethylamine, respectively, dimethylamine has become a promising target for searches in space. Its rotational spectrum, however, has been known only up to 45 GHz until now. Here we investigate the rotation-tunnelling spectrum of dimethylamine in selected regions between 76 and 1091 GHz using three different spectrometers in order to facilitate its detection in space. The quantum number range is extended to J = 61 and Ka = 21, yielding an extensive set of accurate spectroscopic parameters. To search for dimethylamine, we refer to the spectral line survey ReMoCA carried out with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array towards the high-mass star-forming region Sagittarius B2(N) and a spectral line survey of the molecular cloud G+0.693–0.027 employing the IRAM 30 m and Yebes 40 m radio telescopes. We report non-detections of dimethylamine towards the hot molecular cores Sgr B2(N1S) and Sgr B2(N2b) as well as G+0.693−0.027 which imply that dimethylamine is at least 14, 4.5, and 39 times less abundant than methylamine towards these sources, respectively. The observational results are compared to computational results from a gas-grain astrochemical model. The modelled methylamine to dimethylamine ratios are compatible with the observational lower limits. However, the model produces too much ethylamine compared with methylamine which could mean that the already fairly low levels of dimethylamine in the models may also be too high.

     
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  2. Context. The detection of a branched alkyl molecule in the high-mass star forming protocluster Sagittarius (Sgr) B2(N) permitted by the advent of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) revealed a new dimension of interstellar chemistry. Astrochemical simulations subsequently predicted that beyond a certain degree of molecular complexity, branched molecules could even dominate over their straight-chain isomers. Aims. More generally, we aim to probe further the presence in the interstellar medium of complex organic molecules with the capacity to exhibit both a normal and iso form, via the attachment of a functional group to either a primary or secondary carbon atom. Methods. We used the imaging spectral line survey ReMoCA performed with ALMA at high angular resolution and the results of a recent spectroscopic study of propanol to search for the iso and normal isomers of this molecule in the hot molecular core Sgr B2(N2). We analyzed the interferometric spectra under the assumption of local thermodynamical equilibrium. We expanded the network of the astrochemical model MAGICKAL to explore the formation routes of propanol and put the observational results in a broader astrochemical context. Results. We report the first interstellar detection of iso-propanol, ¿-C 3 H 7 OH, toward a position of Sgr B2(N2) that shows narrow linewidths. We also report the first secure detection of the normal isomer of propanol, n-C 3 H 7 OH, in a hot core. Iso-propanol is found to be nearly as abundant as normal-propanol, with an abundance ratio of 0.6 which is similar to the ratio of 0.4 that we obtained previously for iso- and normal-propyl cyanide in Sgr B2(N2) at lower angular resolution with our previous ALMA survey, EMoCA. The observational results are in good agreement with the outcomes of our astrochemical models, which indicate that the OH-radical addition to propylene in dust-grain ice mantles, driven by water photodissociation, can produce appropriate quantities of normal- and iso-propanol. The normal-to-iso ratio in Sgr B2(N2) may be a direct inheritance of the branching ratio of this reaction process. Conclusions. The detection of normal- and iso-propanol and their ratio indicate that the modest preference for the normal form of propyl cyanide determined previously may be a more general feature among similarly sized interstellar molecules. Detecting other pairs of interstellar organic molecules with a functional group attached either to a primary or secondary carbon may help in pinning down the processes that dominate in setting their normal-to-iso ratios. Butanol and its isomers would be the next obvious candidates in the alcohol family, but their detection in hot cores will be challenging. 
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  3. Context.The interstellar detections of isocyanic acid (HNCO), methyl isocyanate (CH3NCO), and very recently also ethyl isocyanate (C2H5NCO) invite the question of whether or not vinyl isocyanate (C2H3NCO) can be detected in the interstellar medium. There are only low-frequency spectroscopic data (<40 GHz) available for this species in the literature, which makes predictions at higher frequencies rather uncertain, which in turn hampers searches for this molecule in space using millimeter (mm) wave astronomy.

    Aims.The aim of the present study is on one hand to extend the laboratory rotational spectrum of vinyl isocyanate to the mm wave region and on the other to search, for the first time, for its presence in the high-mass star-forming region Sgr B2, where other isocyanates and a plethora of complex organic molecules are observed.

    Methods.We recorded the pure rotational spectrum of vinyl isocyanate in the frequency regions 127.5–218 and 285–330 GHz using the Prague mm wave spectrometer. The spectral analysis was supported by high-level quantum-chemical calculations. On the astronomy side, we assumed local thermodynamic equilibrium to compute synthetic spectra of vinyl isocyanate and to search for it in the ReMoCA survey performed with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) toward the high-mass star-forming protocluster Sgr B2(N). Additionally, we searched for the related molecule ethyl isocyanate in the same source.

    Results.Accurate values for the rotational and centrifugal distortion constants are reported for the ground vibrational states of trans and cis vinyl isocyanate from the analysis of more than 1000 transitions. We report nondetections of vinyl and ethyl isocyanate toward the main hot core of Sgr B2(N). We find that vinyl and ethyl isocyanate are at least 11 and 3 times less abundant than methyl isocyanate in this source, respectively.

    Conclusions.Although the precise formation mechanism of interstellar methyl isocyanate itself remains uncertain, we infer from existing astrochemical models that our observational upper limit for the CH3NCO:C2H5NCO ratio in Sgr B2(N) is consistent with ethyl isocyanate being formed on dust grains via the abstraction or photodissociation of an H atom from methyl isocyanate, followed by the addition of a methyl radical. The dominance of such a process for ethyl isocyanate production, combined with the absence of an analogous mechanism for vinyl isocyanate, would indicate that the ratio C2H3NCO:C2H5NCO should be less than unity. Even though vinyl isocyanate was not detected toward Sgr B2(N), the results of this work represent a significant improvement on previous low-frequency studies and will help the astronomical community to continue searching for this species in the Universe.

     
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  4. ABSTRACT

    We report the detection of the ground state rotational emission of ammonia, ortho-NH3 (JK = 10 → 00) in a gravitationally lensed intrinsically hyperluminous star-bursting galaxy at z = 2.6. The integrated line profile is consistent with other molecular and atomic emission lines which have resolved kinematics well modelled by a 5 kpc-diameter rotating disc. This implies that the gas responsible for NH3 emission is broadly tracing the global molecular reservoir, but likely distributed in pockets of high density (n ≳ 5 × 104 cm−3). With a luminosity of 2.8 × 106 L⊙, the NH3 emission represents 2.5 × 10−7 of the total infrared luminosity of the galaxy, comparable to the ratio observed in the Kleinmann–Low nebula in Orion and consistent with sites of massive star formation in the Milky Way. If $L_{\rm NH_3}/L_{\rm IR}$ serves as a proxy for the ‘mode’ of star formation, this hints that the nature of star formation in extreme starbursts in the early Universe is similar to that of Galactic star-forming regions, with a large fraction of the cold interstellar medium in this state, plausibly driven by a storm of violent disc instabilities in the gas-dominated disc. This supports the ‘full of Orions’ picture of star formation in the most extreme galaxies seen close to the peak epoch of stellar mass assembly.

     
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  5. Context.In recent times, large organic molecules of exceptional complexity have been found in diverse regions of the interstellar medium.

    Aims.In this context, we aim to provide accurate frequencies of the ground vibrational state of two key aliphatic aldehydes,n-butanal and its branched-chain isomer, i-butanal, to enable their eventual detection in the interstellar medium. We also want to test the level of complexity that interstellar chemistry can reach in regions of star formation.

    Methods.We employ a frequency modulation millimeter-wave absorption spectrometer to measure the rotational features ofn- andi-butanal. We analyze the assigned rotational transitions of each rotamer separately using theA-reduced semirigid-rotor Hamiltonian. We use the spectral line survey ReMoCA performed with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array to search forn- andi-butanal toward the star-forming region Sgr B2(N). We also search for both aldehydes toward the molecular cloud G+0.693−0.027 with IRAM 30 m and Yebes 40 m observations. The observational results are compared with computational results from a recent gas-grain astrochemical model.

    Results.Several thousand rotational transitions belonging to the lowest-energy conformers of two distinct linear and branched isomers have been assigned in the laboratory spectra up to 325 GHz. A precise set of the relevant rotational spectroscopic constants has been determined for each structure as a first step toward identifying both molecules in the interstellar medium. We report non-detections ofn-and i-butanal toward both sources, Sgr B2(N1S) and G+0.693-0.027. We find thatn- andi-butanal are at least 2-6 and 6-18 times less abundant than acetaldehyde toward Sgr B2(N1S), respectively, and thatn-butanal is at least 63 times less abundant than acetaldehyde toward G+0.693−0.027. While propanal is not detected toward Sgr B2(N1S) either, with an abundance at least 5–11 lower than that of acetaldehyde, propanal is found to be 7 times less abundant than acetaldehyde in G+0.693−0.027. Comparison with astrochemical models indicates good agreement between observed and simulated abundances (where available). Grain-surface chemistry appears sufficient to reproduce aldehyde ratios in G+0.693−0.027; gas-phase production may play a more active role in Sgr B2(N1S). Model estimates for the larger aldehydes indicate that the observed upper limits may be close to the underlying values.

    Conclusions.Our astronomical results indicate that the family of interstellar aldehydes in the Galactic center region is characterized by a drop of one order of magnitude in abundance at each incrementation in the level of molecular complexity.

     
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  6. Context. Numerous complex organic molecules have been detected in the universe and among them are amides, which are considered as prime models for species containing a peptide linkage. In its backbone, acrylamide (CH 2 CHC(O)NH 2 ) bears not only the peptide bond, but also the vinyl functional group that is a common structural feature in many interstellar compounds. This makes acrylamide an interesting candidate for searches in the interstellar medium. In addition, a tentative detection of the related molecule propionamide (C 2 H 5 C(O)NH 2 ) has been recently claimed toward Sgr B2(N). Aims. The aim of this work is to extend the knowledge of the laboratory rotational spectrum of acrylamide to higher frequencies, which would make it possible to conduct a rigorous search for interstellar signatures of this amide using millimeter wave astronomy. Methods. We measured and analyzed the rotational spectrum of acrylamide between 75 and 480 GHz. We searched for emission of acrylamide in the imaging spectral line survey ReMoCA performed with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array toward Sgr B2(N). We also searched for propionamide in the same source. The astronomical spectra were analyzed under the assumption of local thermodynamic equilibrium. Results. We report accurate laboratory measurements and analyses of thousands of rotational transitions in the ground state and two excited vibrational states of the most stable syn form of acrylamide. In addition, we report an extensive set of rotational transitions for the less stable skew conformer. Tunneling through a low energy barrier between two symmetrically equivalent configurations has been revealed for this higher-energy species. Neither acrylamide nor propionamide were detected toward the two main hot molecular cores of Sgr B2(N). We did not detect propionamide either toward a position located to the east of the main hot core, thereby undermining the recent claim of its interstellar detection toward this position. We find that acrylamide and propionamide are at least 26 and 14 times less abundant, respectively, than acetamide toward the main hot core Sgr B2(N1S), and at least 6 and 3 times less abundant, respectively, than acetamide toward the secondary hot core Sgr B2(N2). Conclusions. A comparison with results of astrochemical kinetics model for related species suggests that acrylamide may be a few hundred times less abundant than acetamide, corresponding to a value that is at least an order of magnitude lower than the observational upper limits. Propionamide may be as little as only a factor of two less abundant than the upper limit derived toward Sgr B2(N1S). Lastly, the spectroscopic data presented in this work will aid future searches of acrylamide in space. 
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  7. ABSTRACT

    Galactic plane radio surveys play a key role in improving our understanding of a wide range of astrophysical phenomena. Performing such a survey using the latest interferometric telescopes produces large data rates necessitating a shift towards fully or quasi-real-time data analysis with data being stored for only the time required to process them. We present here the overview and set-up for the 3000-h Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR)–MeerKAT Galactic Plane Survey (MMGPS). The survey is unique by operating in a commensal mode, addressing key science objectives of the survey including the discovery of new pulsars and transients and studies of Galactic magnetism, the interstellar medium and star formation rates. We explain the strategy coupled with the necessary hardware and software infrastructure needed for data reduction in the imaging, spectral, and time domains. We have so far discovered 78 new pulsars including 17 confirmed binary systems of which two are potential double neutron star systems. We have also developed an imaging pipeline sensitive to the order of a few tens of micro-Jansky ($\mu{\rm Jy}$) with a spatial resolution of a few arcseconds. Further science operations with an in-house built S-band receiver operating between 1.7 and 3.5 GHz are about to commence. Early spectral line commissioning observations conducted at S-band, targeting transitions of the key molecular gas tracer CH at 3.3 GHz already illustrate the spectroscopic capabilities of this instrument. These results lay a strong foundation for future surveys with telescopes like the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

     
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  8. Context. The electron density ( n e − ) plays an important role in setting the chemistry and physics of the interstellar medium. However, measurements of n e − in neutral clouds have been directly obtained only toward a few lines of sight or they rely on indirect determinations. Aims. We use carbon radio recombination lines and the far-infrared lines of C + to directly measure n e − and the gas temperature in the envelope of the integral shaped filament (ISF) in the Orion A molecular cloud. Methods. We observed the C102 α (6109.901 MHz) and C109 α (5011.420 MHz) carbon radio recombination lines (CRRLs) using the Effelsberg 100 m telescope at ≈2′ resolution toward five positions in OMC-2 and OMC-3. Since the CRRLs have similar line properties, we averaged them to increase the signal-to-noise ratio of the spectra. We compared the intensities of the averaged CRRLs, and the 158 μm-[CII] and [ 13 CII] lines to the predictions of a homogeneous model for the C + /C interface in the envelope of a molecular cloud and from this comparison we determined the electron density, temperature and C + column density of the gas. Results. We detect the CRRLs toward four positions, where their velocity ( v LSR  ≈ 11 km s −1 ) and widths ( σ v  ≈ 1 km s −1 ) confirms that they trace the envelope of the ISF. Toward two positions we detect the CRRLs, and the 158 μm-[CII] and [ 13 CII] lines with a signal-to-noise ratio ≥5, and we find n e −  = 0.65 ± 0.12 cm −3 and 0.95 ± 0.02 cm −3 , which corresponds to a gas density n H  ≈ 5 × 10 3 cm −3 and a thermal pressure of p th  ≈ 4 × 10 5 K cm −3 . We also constrained the ionization fraction in the denser portions of the molecular cloud using the HCN(1–0) and C 2 H(1–0) lines to x (e − ) ≤ 3 × 10 −6 . Conclusions. The derived electron densities and ionization fraction imply that x (e − ) drops by a factor ≥100 between the C + layer and the regions probed by HCN(1–0). This suggests that electron collisional excitation does not play a significant role in setting the excitation of HCN(1–0) toward the region studied, as it is responsible for only ≈10% of the observed emission. 
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  9. Young massive stars warm up the large amount of gas and dust that condenses in their vicinity, exciting a forest of lines from different molecular species. Their line brightness is a diagnostic tool of the gas’s physical conditions locally, which we use to set constraints on the environment where massive stars form. We made use of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array at frequencies near 349 GHz, with an angular resolution of 0′′.1, to observe the methyl cyanide (CH 3 CN) emission which arises from the accretion disk of a young massive star. We sample the disk midplane with twelve distinct beams, where we get an independent measure of the gas’s (and dust’s) physical conditions. The accretion disk extends above the midplane, showing a double-armed spiral morphology projected onto the plane of the sky, which we sample with ten additional beams: Along these apparent spiral features, gas undergoes velocity gradients of about 1 km s −1 per 2000 au. The gas temperature ( T ) rises symmetrically along each side of the disk, from about 98 K at 3000 au to 289 K at 250 au, following a power law with radius R −0.43 . The CH 3 CN column density ( N ) increases from 9.2 × 10 15 cm −2 to 8.7 × 10 17 cm −2 at the same radii, following a power law with radius R −1.8 . In the framework of a circular gaseous disk observed approximately edge-on, we infer an H 2 volume density in excess of 4.8 ×10 9 cm −3 at a distance of 250 au from the star. We study the disk stability against fragmentation following the methodology by Kratter et al. (2010, ApJ, 708, 1585), which is appropriate under rapid accretion, and we show that the disk is marginally prone to fragmentation along its whole extent. 
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  10. Context. Glycinamide (NH 2 CH 2 C(O)NH 2 ) is considered to be one of the possible precursors of the simplest amino acid, glycine. Its only rotational spectrum reported so far has been in the centimetre-wave region on a laser-ablation generated supersonic expansion sample. Aims. The aim of this work is to extend the laboratory spectrum of glycinamide to the millimetre (mm) wave region to support searches for this molecule in the interstellar medium and to perform the first check for its presence in the high-mass star forming region Sagittarius B2(N). Methods. Glycinamide was synthesised chemically and was studied with broadband rotational spectroscopy in the 90–329 GHz region with the sample in slow flow at 50°C. Tunnelling across a low-energy barrier between two symmetry equivalent configurations of the molecule resulted in splitting of each vibrational state and many perturbations in associated rotational energy levels, requiring careful coupled state fits for each vibrational doublet. We searched for emission of glycinamide in the imaging spectral line survey ReMoCA performed with the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array towards Sgr B2(N). The astronomical spectra were analysed under the assumption of local thermodynamic equilibrium. Results. We report the first analysis of the mm-wave rotational spectrum of glycinamide, resulting in fitting – to experimental measurement accuracy – of over 1200 assigned and measured transition frequencies for the ground-state tunnelling doublet and of many lines for tunnelling doublets for two singly excited vibrational states. We also determine the precise vibrational separation in each doublet. We did not detect emission from glycinamide in the hot molecular core Sgr B2(N1S). We derived a column density upper limit of 1.5 × 10 16 cm −2 , which implies that glycinamide is at least seven times less abundant than aminoacetonitrile and 1.8 times less abundant than urea in this source. A comparison with results of astrochemical kinetics models for species related to glycinamide suggests that its abundance may be at least one order of magnitude below the upper limit obtained towards Sgr B2(N1S). This means that glycinamide emission in this source likely lies well below the spectral confusion limit in the frequency range covered by the ReMoCA survey. Conclusions. Thanks to the spectroscopic data provided by this study, the search for glycinamide in the interstellar medium can continue on a firm basis. Targetting sources with a lower level of spectral confusion, such as the Galactic Center shocked region G+0.693-0.027, may be a promising avenue. 
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