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The Inner Workings of a Protostar: A Chemical View of the Disk and Envelope of L1527

Presentation #202.01 in the session Star Formation.

Published onJul 01, 2023
The Inner Workings of a Protostar: A Chemical View of the Disk and Envelope of L1527

A protostar is a young star in its early stages of formation. During this time molecular gas and dust falls onto a disk and then accretes inward to reach the growing protostar. To investigate the structure of the protostar environment—including the disk, infalling envelope, and outflow regions—high resolution spectral data are needed, such as that provided by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Using this data, one can analyze the chemistry of these regions and gain a clearer picture of the processes leading to planet formation within the disk, and consequently, the origins of life. In this study, we focus on the Class 0/I protostar L1527, the prototype for Warm Carbon Chain Chemistry (WCCC): an astrochemical construct that predicts a widespread abundance of simpler carbon chain species and decrease in more complex organics i.e. interstellar complex organic molecules (iCOMS). To better understand the evolution of this chemistry we look to the protostar’s disk and envelope using high resolution ALMA data. This work focuses on four molecules that were detected in the inner regions of L1527: Cyclopropylidene (C3H2O), Ethynyl (C2H), Formaldehyde (CH₂O), and Methyl Formate (C2H4O2). Spectral analysis and imaging techniques show these molecules reside both in the envelope and the disk, consistent with an origin in the outer envelope and persistence from envelope into the disk, where they may contribute to planet formation in later stages of the protostellar life cycle. In conjunction to these observations, we use RadChemT, a novel radiative transfer, dynamics and astrochemistry code to provide predictions of these gas-phase molecules to compare with the respective ALMA data.

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