Author(s): , , , , , , , ,
Institution(s): 1. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 2. Université Paris-Sud, 3. Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 4. University of Virginia
Organic molecules in the early stages of star formation are mainly produced in icy mantles surrounding interstellar dust grains. Identifying these complex organics and quantifying their abundance during the evolution of young stellar objects is of importance to understand the emergence of life. Simple molecules in ices, up to methanol in size, have been identified in the interstellar medium through their mid-IR vibrations, but band confusion prevents detections of more complex and less abundant organic molecules in interstellar ices. The presence of complex organics on grains can instead be indirectly inferred from observations of their rotational lines in the gas phase following ice sublimation.
Thermal sublimation of protostellar ices occurs when icy grains flow toward a central protostar, resulting in the formation of a hot-core or a hot-corinos. The high degree of chemical complexity observed in these dense and warm regions can be the results of i) direct synthesis on the grains followed by desorption, but also to ii) the desorption of precursors from the ice followed by gas-phase chemistry. I will show how spatially resolved millimetric observations of hot cores and cooler protostellar environments, coupled to ice observations can help us pinpoint the ice or gas-phase origin of these organic species.
Organic molecules have also recently been observed in cold environments where thermal desorption can be neglected. The presence of these cold molecules in the gas phase is most likely due to non-thermal desorption processes induced by, for e.g., photon-, electron-, cosmic-ray-irradiation, shock, exothermic reactions... I will present laboratory and observational efforts that push our current understanding of these non-thermal desorption processes and how they could be use to quantify the amount of organics in ices.