A non-equilibrium ortho-to-para ratio of water in the Orion PDR

Y. Choi, F. F. S. van der Tak, E. A. Bergin, R. Plume

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Context. The ortho-to-para ratio (OPR) of H2O is thought to be sensitive to the temperature of water formation. The OPR of H2O is thus useful for studying the formation mechanism of water. Aims: We investigate the OPR of water in the Orion PDR (photon-dominated region), at the Orion Bar and Orion S positions, using data from Herschel/HIFI. Methods: We detect the ground-state lines of ortho- and para-H218O in the Orion Bar and Orion S and estimate the column densities using local thermodynamical equilibrium (LTE) and non-LTE methods. Results: Based on our calculations, the OPR in the Orion Bar is 0.1-0.5, which is unexpectedly low given the gas temperature of ~85 K, and also lower than the values measured for other interstellar clouds and protoplanetary disks. Toward Orion S, our OPR estimate is below 2. Conclusions: This low OPR at 2 positions in the Orion PDR is inconsistent with gas phase formation and with thermal evaporation from dust grains, but it may be explained by photodesorption. Herschel is an ESA space observatory with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia and with important participation from NASA.Appendices are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL10
Number of pages6
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2014


  • ISM: molecules
  • ISM: individual objects: Orion Bar
  • ISM: individual objects: Orion S

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