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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% 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 ammoniamore »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 in 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 tomore »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. We started a multi-scale analysis of star formation in G202.3+2.5, an intertwined filamentary sub-region of the Monoceros OB1 molecular complex, in order to provide observational constraints on current theories and models that attempt to explain star formation globally. In the first paper (Paper I), we examined the distributions of dense cores and protostars and found enhanced star formation activity in the junction region of the filaments. Aims. In this second paper, we aim to unveil the connections between the core and filament evolutions, and between the filament dynamics and the global evolution of the cloud. Methods. We characterise the gas dynamics and energy balance in different parts of G202.3+2.5 using infrared observations from the Herschel and WISE telescopes and molecular tracers observed with the IRAM 30-m and TRAO 14-m telescopes. The velocity field of the cloud is examined and velocity-coherent structures are identified, characterised, and put in perspective with the cloud environment. Results. Two main velocity components are revealed, well separated in radial velocities in the north and merged around the location of intense N 2 H + emission in the centre of G202.3+2.5 where Paper I found the peak of star formation activity. We show that the relativemore »position of the two components along the sightline, and the velocity gradient of the N 2 H + emission imply that the components have been undergoing collision for ~10 5 yr, although it remains unclear whether the gas moves mainly along or across the filament axes. The dense gas where N 2 H + is detected is interpreted as the compressed region between the two filaments, which corresponds to a high mass inflow rate of ~1 × 10 −3 M ⊙ yr −1 and possibly leads to a significant increase in its star formation efficiency. We identify a protostellar source in the junction region that possibly powers two crossed intermittent outflows. We show that the H  II region around the nearby cluster NCG 2264 is still expanding and its role in the collision is examined. However, we cannot rule out the idea that the collision arises mostly from the global collapse of the cloud. Conclusions. The (sub-)filament-scale observables examined in this paper reveal a collision between G202.3+2.5 sub-structures and its probable role in feeding the cores in the junction region. To shed more light on this link between core and filament evolutions, one must characterise the cloud morphology, its fragmentation, and magnetic field, all at high resolution. We consider the role of the environment in this paper, but a larger-scale study of this region is now necessary to investigate the scenario of a global cloud collapse.« less