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2021A&A...656A.148R - Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 656A, 148-148 (2021/12-1)

Mechanisms for gas-phase molecular formation of neutral formaldehyde (H2CO) in cold astrophysical regions.


Abstract (from CDS):

Context. Formaldehyde is a potential biogenic precursor involved in prebiotic chemical evolution. The cold conditions of the interstellar medium (ISM) allow H2CO to be reactive, playing a significant role as a chemical intermediate in formation pathways leading to interstellar complex organic molecules. However, gas-phase molecular formation mechanisms in cold regions of the ISM are poorly understood.
Aims. We computationally determine the most favored gas-phase molecular formation mechanisms at local thermodynamic equilibrium conditions that can produce the detected amounts of H2CO in diffuse molecular clouds (DMCs), in dark, cold, and dense molecular clouds (DCDMCs), and in three regions of circumstellar envelopes of low-mass protostars (CELMPs).
Methods. The potential energy surfaces, thermodynamic functions, and single-point energies for transition states were calculated at the CCSD(T)-F12/cc-pVTZ-F12 and MP2/aug-cc-pVDZ levels of theory and basis sets. Molecular thermodynamics and related partition functions were obtained by applying the Maxwell-Boltzmann quantum statistics theory from energies computed at CCSD(T)-F12/cc-pVTZ-F12 with corrections for zero-point energy. A literature review on detected abundances of reactants helped us to propose the most favorable formation routes.
Results. The most probable reactions that produce H2CO in cold astrophysical regions are: 1CH2 + .3O21H2CO + O.(3P) in DMCs, .3CH2 + .3O21H2CO + .O(3P) in DCDMCs, and .CH3 + .O(3P) ⟶ 1H2CO + .H in region III, .CH3 + .O(1D) ⟶ 1H2CO + .H in region II, and 1CH2 + .3O21H2CO + .O(3P) in region I belonging to CELMPs.
Conclusions. Quantum chemical calculations suggest that the principal carbonaceous precursors of H2CO in cold regions for the gas-phase are CH2(a1A1), and .CH2(X3B1) combined with .O2(3Σg) and .CH3(2A") + .O(3P)/ O(1D). Reactions based on more complex reagents yield less effective thermodynamics in the gas-phase H2CO molecular formation.

Abstract Copyright: © ESO 2021

Journal keyword(s): astrobiology - astrochemistry - ISM: molecules - molecular processes

Simbad objects: 72

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