Detection of interstellar vibrationally excited HCN.

L. M. Ziurys, B. E. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Vibrationally excited HCN has been observed for the first time in the interstellar medium. The J = 3-2 rotational transitions of the l-doubled (0,1(1d,1c), 0) bending mode of HCN have been detected toward Orion-KL and IRC +10216. In Orion, the overall column density in the (0,1,0) mode, which exclusively samples the "hot core", is 1.7 x 10(16) cm-2 and can be understood in terms of the "doughnut" model for Orion. The ground-state HCN column density implied by the excited-state observations is 2.3 x 10(18) cm-2 in the hot core, at least one order of magnitude greater than the column densities derived for HCN in its spike and plateau/doughnut components. Radiative excitation by 14 micrometers flux from IRc2 accounts for the (0,1,0) population, provided the hot core is approximately 6-7 x 10(16) cm distant from IRc2, in agreement with the "cavity" model for KL. Toward IRC +10216 we have detected J = 3-2 transitions of both (0,1(1c),(1d), 0) and (0, 2(0), 0) excited states. The spectral profiles have been modeled to yield abundances and excitation conditions throughout the expanding envelope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L19-23
JournalThe Astrophysical journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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