Energetic radiation and the sulfur chemistry of protostellar envelopes: submillimeter interferometry of AFGL 2591

A. O. Benz*, P. Staeuber, T. L. Bourke, F. F. S. van der Tak, E. F. van Dishoeck, J. K. Jorgensen, E F; Dishoeck Van, J K Jørgensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Context. The chemistry in the inner few thousand AU of accreting envelopes around young stellar objects is predicted to vary greatly with far-UV and X-ray irradiation by the central star.

Aims. We search for molecular tracers of high-energy irradiation by the protostar in the hot inner envelope.

Methods. The Submillimeter Array (SMA) has observed the high-mass star forming region AFGL 2591 in lines of CS, SO, HCN, HCN(v(2) = 1), and (HCN)-N-15 with 0.6" resolution at 350 GHz probing radial scales of 600-3500 AU for an assumed distance of 1 kpc. The SMA observations are compared with the predictions of a chemical model fitted to previous single-dish observations.

Results. The CS and SO main peaks are extended in space at the FWHM level, as predicted in the model assuming protostellar X-rays. However, the main peak sizes are found smaller than modeled by nearly a factor of 2. On the other hand, the lines of CS, HCN, and (HCN)-N-15, but not SO and HCN(v(2) = 1), show pedestal emissions at radii less than or similar to 3500 AU that are not predicted. All lines except SO show a secondary peak within the approaching outflow cone. A dip or null in the visibilities caused by a sharp decrease in abundance with increasing radius is not observed in CS and only tentatively in SO.

Conclusions. The emission of protostellar X-rays is supported by the good fit of the modeled SO and CS amplitude visibilities including an extended main peak in CS. The broad pedestals can be interpreted by far-UV irradiation in a spherically non-symmetric geometry, possibly comprising outflow walls on scales of 3500-7000 AU. The extended CS and SO main peaks suggest sulfur evaporation near the 100 K temperature radius. The effects of the corresponding abundance jumps may be reduced in visibility plots by smoothing due to inhomogeneity at the evaporation radius, varying by +/- 10% or more in different directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-558
Number of pages10
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2007


  • accretion, accretion disks
  • stars : formation
  • submillimeter
  • astrochemistry
  • ISM : molecules
  • X-rays : ISM
  • GAS


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