Identification of phosphorus monoxide (x2iir) in vy canis majoris: Detection of the first pio bond in space

E. D. Tenenbaum, N. J. Woolf, Lucy M Ziurys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

75 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A new interstellar molecule, PO (X 2IIr), has been detected toward the envelope of the oxygen-rich supergiant star VY Canis Majoris (VY CMa) using the Submillimeter Telescope of the Arizona Radio Observatory. The J p 5.5 → 4.5 and J = 6.5 → 5.5 rotational transitions of PO at 240 and 284 GHz were observed, each of which consisted of well-defined lambda-doublets. The line profiles are roughly parabolic in shape, analogous to PN, and suggest that this species arises from the spherical wind in VY CMa, as opposed to the collimated blue- and redshifted outflows. Comparison of line intensities indicates that PO arises from a confined source roughly 1″ in extent, with a column density of Ntot ≈ 2.8 # 1015 cm-2, which corresponds to a fractional abundance of/∼ 9 × 10-8, relative to H2. Consequently, PO and PN have similar concentrations in VY CMa, a result not predicted by either LTE or kinetic models of circumstellar chemistry. These phosphorus compounds may arise from shock-induced reactions in this active envelope. Phosphorus monoxide is the first interstellar molecule detected that contains a P - O bond, a moiety essential in biochemical compounds. It is also the first new species to be identified in an oxygen-rich, as opposed to a carbon-rich, circumstellar envelope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume666
Issue number1 PART 2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007

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phosphorus
envelopes
oxygen
phosphorus compounds
supergiant stars
outflow
observatory
local thermodynamic equilibrium
radio
new species
kinetics
molecules
carbon
observatories
shock
telescopes
chemistry
profiles
detection
comparison

Keywords

  • Astrobiology
  • Astrochemistry
  • Circumstellar matter
  • ISM: Molecules
  • Radio lines: Stars
  • Stars: Individual (VY Canis Majoris)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

Identification of phosphorus monoxide (x2iir) in vy canis majoris : Detection of the first pio bond in space. / Tenenbaum, E. D.; Woolf, N. J.; Ziurys, Lucy M.

In: Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 666, No. 1 PART 2, 2007.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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