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Nathan Crockett Thesis Defense

Friday, June 21, 2013
12:00 AM
845 Dennison (OWL Room)

Analysis of the Herschel/HIFI 1.2 THz Wide Spectral Survey Toward Orion KL

This dissertation presents a comprehensive analysis of a broad band spectral line survey of the Orion Kleinmann-Low nebula (Orion KL), one of the most chemically rich regions in the Galaxy, using the HIFI instrument on board the Herschel Space Observatory. This survey spans a frequency range from 480 to 1907~GHz at a resolution of 1.1~MHz. These observations thus encompass the largest spectral coverage ever obtained toward this massive star forming region in the sub-mm with high spectral resolution, and include frequencies >1 THz where the Earth's atmosphere prevents observations from the ground. In all, we detect emission from 36 molecules (76 isotopologues). Combining this dataset with ground based mm spectroscopy obtained with the IRAM 30m telescope, we model the molecular emission assuming local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE). Because of the wide frequency coverage, our models are constrained over an unprecedented range in excitation energy, including states at or close to ground up to energies where emission is no longer detected. A chi squared analysis indicates that most of our models reproduce the observed emission well. In particular complex organics, some with thousands of transitions, are well fit by LTE models implying that gas densities are high (>10^6 cm^-3) and excitation temperatures and column densities are well constrained. Molecular abundances are computed using H2 column densities also derived from the HIFI survey. The rotation temperature distribution of molecules detected toward the hot core is much wider relative to the compact ridge, plateau, and extended ridge. We find that complex N-bearing species, cyanides in particular, systematically probe hotter gas than complex O-bearing species. This indicates complex N-bearing molecules may be more difficult to remove from grain surfaces or that hot gas phase formation routes are important for these species. We also present a detailed non-LTE analysis of H2S emission toward the hot core which suggests this light hydride may probe heavily embedded gas in close proximity to a hidden self-luminous source (or sources), conceivably responsible for Orion~KL's high luminosity. The abundances derived here, along with the publicly available data and molecular fits, represent a legacy for comparison to other sources and chemical models.

Nathan Crockett