Isotopic fractionation in interstellar molecules
The level of isotopic fractionation in molecules provides insights into their formation environments and how they formed. In this article, we review hydrogen and nitrogen isotopic fractionation in low-mass star-forming regions. Interstellar molecules are significantly enriched in deuterium. The importance of the nuclear spin states of light species on deuterium fractionation and the usefulness of singly and doubly deuterated molecules as chemical tracers are discussed. Observations have revealed that molecules in prestellar cores are enriched in or depleted in 15N depending on molecules. Compared with deuterium fractionation chemistry, our understanding of 15N fractionation chemistry is not well established. We briefly discuss potential 15N fractionation routes, i.e., isotopic-exchange reactions and isotopic selective photodissociation of N2. In addition, the selective freeze-out of 15N atoms onto dust grains around the transition between N atoms and N2 is discussed as a potential mechanism that causes the depletion of 15N in the gas phase.
- Pub Date:
- September 2018
- ISM: abundances;
- ISM: molecules;
- star: formation;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 12 pages, 6 figures, review article, to appear in proceedings of IAU Symposium 332 "Astrochemistry VII: Through the Cosmos from Galaxies to Planets"