Kinetic temperatures of the dense gas clumps in the Orion KL molecular core

Kuo Song Wang*, Yi Jehng Kuan, Sheng Yuan Liu, Steven B. Charnley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


High angular-resolution images of the J = 18K-17 Kemission of CH3CN in the Orion KL molecular core were observed with the Submillimeter Array (SMA). Our high-resolution observations clearly reveal that CH3CN emission originates mainly from the Orion Hot Core and the Compact Ridge, both within ∼ 15″ of the warm and dense part of Orion KL. The clumpy nature of the molecular gas in Orion KL can also be readily seen from our high-resolution SMA images. In addition, a semi-open cavity-like kinematic structure is evident at the location between the Hot Core and the Compact Ridge. We performed excitation analysis with the "population diagram" method toward the Hot Core, IRc7, and the northern part of the Compact Ridge. Our results disclose a non-uniform temperature structure on small scales in Orion KL, with a range of temperatures from 190-620K in the Hot Core. Near the Compact Ridge, the temperatures are found to be 170-280K. Comparable CH3CN fractional abundances of 10-8 to 10-7 are found around both in the Hot Core and the Compact Ridge. Such high abundances require that a hot gas phase chemistry, probably involving ammonia released from grain mantles, plays an important role in forming these CH3CN molecules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1192-1206
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • ISM: individual objects (Orion KL)
  • ISM: kinematics and dynamics
  • ISM: molecules
  • Radio lines: ISM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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