Nitric oxide in star-forming regions: Further evidence for interstellar N-O bonds

Lucy M Ziurys, D. Mcgonagle, Y. Minh, W. M. Irvine

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Nitric oxide has been newly detected towards several star-forming clouds, including Orion-KL, Sgr B2(N), W33A, W51M, and DR21(OH) via its J = 3/2 → 1/2 transitions near 150 GHz, using the FCRAO 14 m telescope. Both λ-doubling components of NO were observed towards all sources. Column densities derived for nitric oxide in these clouds are N ∼ 1015-1016 cm-2, corresponding to fractional abundances of f∼ 0.5-1.0 × 10-8, relative to H2. Towards Orion-KL, the NO line profile suggests that the species arises primarily from hot, dense gas. Nitric oxide may arise from warm material toward the other clouds as well. Nitric oxide in star-forming regions could be synthesized by high-temperature reactions, although the observed abundances do not disagree with values predicted from low-temperature, ion-molecule chemistry by more than one order of magnitude. The abundance of NO, unlike other simple interstellar nitrogen compounds, does appear to be reproduced by chemical models, at least to a good approximation. Regardless of the nature of formation of NO, it appears to be a common constituent of warm, dense molecular clouds. N-O bonds may therefore be more prevalent than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-542
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 1991
Externally publishedYes



  • Interstellar: molecules
  • Nebulae: abundances
  • Stars: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science

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