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Physics  2015 

Herschel HIFI Observations of the Sgr A +50 km/s Cloud. Deep Searches for O2 in Emission and Foreground Absorption

DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201526280

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Abstract:

To date O2 has definitely been detected in only two sources, namely rho Oph A and Orion, reflecting the extremely low abundance of O2 in the interstellar medium. One of the sources in the HOP program is the +50 km/s Cloud in the Sgr A Complex in the centre of the Milky Way. The Herschel HIFI is used to search for the 487 and 774 GHz emission lines of O2. No O2 emission is detected towards the Sgr A +50 km/s Cloud, but a number of strong emission lines of methanol (CH3OH) and absorption lines of chloronium (H2Cl+) are observed. A 3 sigma upper limit for the fractional abundance ratio of (O2)/(H2) in the Sgr A +50 km/s Cloud is found to be X(O2) less than 5 x 10(-8). However, since we can find no other realistic molecular candidate than O2 itself, we very tentatively suggest that two weak absorption lines at 487.261 and 487.302 GHz may be caused by the 487 GHz line of O2 in two foreground spiral arm clouds. By considering that the absorption may only be apparent, the estimated upper limit to the O2 abundance of less than (10-20) x 10(-6) in these foreground clouds is very high. This abundance limit was determined also using Odin non-detection limits. If the absorption is due to a differential Herschel OFF-ON emission, the O2 fractional abundance may be of the order of (5-10) x 10(-6). With the assumption of pure absorption by foreground clouds, the unreasonably high abundance of (1.4-2.8) x 10(-4) was obtained. The rotation temperatures for CH3OH-A and CH3OH-E lines in the +50 km/s Cloud are found to be 64 and 79 K, respectively, and the fractional abundance of CH3OH is approximately 5 x 10(-7).

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