Methanol Along the Path from Envelope to Protoplanetary Disc
Drozdovskaya et al
Interstellar methanol is considered to be a parent species of larger, more complex organic molecules. A physicochemical simulation of infalling parcels of matter is performed for a low-mass star-forming system to trace the chemical evolution from cloud to disc. An axisymmetric 2D semi-analytic model generates the time-dependent density and velocity distributions, and full continuum radiative transfer is performed to calculate the dust temperature and the UV radiation field at each position as a function of time. A comprehensive gas-grain chemical network is employed to compute the chemical abundances along infall trajectories. Two physical scenarios are studied, one in which the dominant disc growth mechanism is viscous spreading, and another in which continuous infall of matter prevails. The results show that the infall path influences the abundance of methanol entering each type of disc, ranging from complete loss of methanol to an enhancement by a factor of > 1 relative to the prestellar phase. Critical chemical processes and parameters for the methanol chemistry under different physical conditions are identified. The exact abundance and distribution of methanol is important for the budget of complex organic molecules in discs, which will be incorporated into forming planetary system objects such as protoplanets and comets. These simulations show that the comet-forming zone contains less methanol than in the precollapse phase, which is dominantly of prestellar origin, but also with additional layers built up in the envelope during infall. Such intriguing links will soon be tested by upcoming data from the Rosetta mission.