Context. Water is a key molecule in protostellar environments because its line emission is very sensitive to both the chemistry and the physical conditions of the gas. Observations of H2O line emission from low-mass protostars and their associated outflows performed with HIFI onboard the Herschel Space Observatory have highlighted the complexity of H2O line profiles, in which different kinematic components can be distinguished.
Aims: The goal is to study the spatial distribution of H2O, in particular of the different kinematic components detected in H2O emission, at two bright shocked regions along IRAS 4A, one of the strongest H2O emitters among the Class 0 outflows.
Methods: We obtained Herschel-PACS maps of the IRAS 4A outflow and HIFI observations of two shocked positions. The largest HIFI beam of 38'' at 557 GHz was mapped in several key water lines with different upper energy levels, to reveal possible spatial variations of the line profiles. A large velocity gradient (LVG) analysis was performed to determine the excitation conditions of the gas.
Results: We detect four H2O lines and CO (16-15) at the two selected shocked positions. In addition, transitions from related outflow and envelope tracers are detected. Different gas components associated with the shock are identified in the H2O emission. In particular, at the head of the red lobe of the outflow, two distinct gas components with different excitation conditions are distinguished in the HIFI emission maps: a compact component, detected in the ground-state water lines, and a more extended one. Assuming that these two components correspond to two different temperature components observed in previous H2O and CO studies, the LVG analysis of the H2O emission suggests that the compact (about 3'', corresponding to about 700 AU) component is associated with a hot (T ~ 1000 K) gas with densities nH2 ~ (1-4) × 105 cm-3, whereas the extended (10''-17'', corresponding to 2400-4000 AU) one traces a warm (T ~ 300-500 K) and dense gas (nH2 ~ (3-5) × 107 cm-3). Finally, using the CO (16-15) emission observed at R2 and assuming a typical CO/H2 abundance of 10-4, we estimate the H2O/H2 abundance of the warm and hot components to be (7-10) × 10-7 and (3-7) × 10-5.
Conclusions: Our data allowed us, for the first time, to resolve spatially the two temperature components previously observed with HIFI and PACS. We propose that the compact hot component may be associated with the jet that impacts the surrounding material, whereas the warm, dense, and extended component originates from the compression of the ambient gas by the propagating flow.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- August 2014
- stars: low-mass;
- ISM: jets and outflows;
- ISM: molecules;
- ISM: individual objects: NGC 1333-IRAS 4A;
- stars: formation;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 13 pages, 11 figures. Accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics