Detected the ammonium ion in space

26-06-13

The space between the stars, what is called the interstellar medium, is not empty. Although the density of matter is very low (around 10,000 particles per cm3), there is a rich variety of atoms and molecules that populate it. The most abundant matter, as in the rest of the Universe, is hydrogen (in its three variants: ionized, atomic and molecular) and helium. But there are also molecules of all kinds, even more than a hundred have been found. From the most abundant and simple, water (H2O), to large and complex organic chains such as acetone or benzene.

Now, a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by the Center for Astrobiology (CAB, CSIC-INTA ) and the Institute of Structure of the Matter and belonging to the Consolider-Ingenio ASTROMOL team has detected the ammonium ion, NH4 +. Although ammonia (NH3) had already been detected previously, however, this is the first time that the ammonium ion is detected in space through its NH3D + isotopic variant (one of the hydrogen atoms is replaced by one of deuterium). , an isotope of hydrogen with a proton and a neutron in its nucleus, unlike the common hydrogen that only has one proton). "This ion is the starting point for the formation of ammonia, NH3 and prebiotic molecules aminated in space," says José Cernicharo, CSIC research professor at the Center for Astrobiology, and one of the leaders of this research. / p>

The detection of this ion has been carried out using the 30 m radio telescope of Pico Veleta (IRAM) in the region of massive Orion IRc2 star formation and in a very cold gas condensation in the Perseo region ( B1-bS). The identification has been possible thanks to the new data of infrared spectroscopy obtained by the Molecular Physics group of the Institute of Structure of Matter (CSIC).

The Molecular Physics Group of the Institute of Structure of Matter (CSIC) has made laboratory measurements in the infrared of the ν4 band of deuterated ammonium ion NH3D +. The measurements in the infrared significantly improve those made previously thanks to a much more precise frequency scale and the large number of observed spectral lines. The new measurements have allowed to obtain much more precise values ​​for the frequency of the rotational transitions of the NH3D +. The measured frequency coincides with the characteristic observed in Orion-IRc2 and B1-bS by the Molecular Astrophysics group of the CAB, confirming the identification of NH3D + for the first time in the interstellar medium. "This discovery will allow us to validate the predictions of astrochemistry models on the abundance of ammonia and aminated species in the inner zones of proto-stellar objects, proto-planetary discs, and in regions of massive star formation," explains Cernicharo. p>

Astrochemistry tries to expand our knowledge about a rich and varied world in organic species, such as the regions of star and planetary formation that could well harbor the prebiotic roots of life. Ultimately, Astrochemistry pretends to know the role of molecules in the evolution of the Universe. Hence the great importance of studying the interstellar medium in search of new molecules that help us understand the chemical mechanisms that enable their formation and that serve as a guide to understand how non-biotic molecules come to life.

About IRAM

IRAM (Instituto de RadioAstronomía Milimétrica) is a Spanish-Franco-German research center specialized in millimeter radio astronomy. Based in Grenoble (France), it has two observatories located in Pico de Veleta (Granada, Spain) and in Plateau de Bure (France). The IRAM 30 m radio telescope in Pico Veleta is managed by INSU / CNRS (France), MPG (Germany) and IGN (Spain).

About ASTROMOL
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The Constrider-Ingenio ASTROMOL project is led by the CSIC and includes 12 national research teams.

More information:

Articles scientists:
Detection of the Ammonium Ion in Space, J. Cernicharo, B. Third, A. Source, JL Doménech, M. Cueto, E. Carrasco, VJ Herrero, I. Tanarro, N. Marcelino, E. Roueff , M. Gerin, J. Pearson. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Vol. 771, p. L10, July 2013. DOI: 10.1088 / 2041-8205 / 771/1 / L10
Improved Determination of the 10-00 Rotational Frequency of NH3D + from the High-Resolution Spectrum of the IV Infrared Band, JL Doménech, M. Cueto , VJ Herrero, I. Tanarro, B. Third, A. Source, J. Cernicharo. The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Vol. 771, p. L11., July 2013. DOI: 10.1088 / 2041-8205 / 771/1 / L11

Contact: José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Center for Astrobiology (CSIC-INTA)

Scientific Culture Unit of the CAB: Luis Cuesta

 

Fuente: UCC-CAB

 

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