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First measurement of nitrogen fractionation in shocked clumps of the L1157 protostellar outflow. SOLIS XI

· 2 min read
Serena Viti

As part of the SOLIS observational programme, various isotopologues of HCN were observed towards L1157 in order to study the nitrogen fractionation in a protostellar outflow. The modelling work for this study was done using UCLCHEM. You can find the paper here and the abstract below.

The isotopic ratio of nitrogen presents a wide range of values in the Solar System and in star forming system whose origin is still unclear. Chemical reactions in the gas phase are one of the possible processes that could modify the 14 N/ 15 N ratio. We aim at investigating if and how the passage of a shock wave in the interstellar medium, can affect the relative fraction of nitrogen isotopes. The ideal place for such a study is the L1157 outflow, where several shocked clumps are present. We present the first measurement of the 14 N/ 15 N ratio in the two shocked clumps, B1 and B0, of the protostellar outflow L1157, derived from the interferomteric maps of the H 13 CN(1-0) and the HC 15 N(1-0) lines. In B1, we find that the H 13 CN(1-0) and HC 15 N(1-0) emission traces the front of the clump, with averaged column density of N (H 13 CN) ∼ 7 × 10 12 cm −2 and N (HC 15 N) ∼ 2 × 10 12 cm −2 . In this region the ratio H 13 CN(1-0)/HC 15 N(1-0) is quite uniform with an average value of ∼ 5 ± 1. The same average value is also measured in the smaller clump B0e. Assuming the standard 12 C/ 13 C = 68, we obtain 14 N/ 15 N = 340 ± 70, similar to those usually found in prestellar cores and protostars. We analysed the prediction of a chemical shock model for several shock conditions and we found that the nitrogen and carbon fractionations do not vary much for the first period after the shock. The observed H 13 CN/HC 15 N can be reproduced by a non-dissociative, C-type shock with parameters in agreement with previous modelling of L1157-B1. Both observations and chemical models indicate that the shock propagation does not affect the nitrogen isotopic ratio that remains similar to that measured in lower temperature gas in prestellar cores and in protostellar envelopes.