AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 99. The ISM: Structure, Composition and Star Formation
Oral, Thursday, June 3, 1999, 2:00-3:30pm, International Ballroom South

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[99.03] Observations of Formic Acid toward Galactic Hot Molecular Cores

S.- Y. Liu, D. M. Mehringer, L. E. Snyder (Department of Astronomy, UIUC)

Formic acid shares similar structural elements with the common interstellar molecule methyl formate (HCOOCH3) and the elusive biomolecule acetic acid (CH3COOH). It is the simplest organic acid, but it has only been identified in astronomical sources by fairly weak lines in single-element telescope surveys.

In order to study the successive formation of biomolecules such as acetic acid (CH3COOH) and glycine (CH3COONH2) in the ISM, we carried out a survey of HCOOH toward galactic hot molecular cores with the Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Association (BIMA) Array. Up to five transitions with rest frequencies near 87 GHz have been detected simultaneously in three sources: Sgr B2(N), Orion, and W51. HCOOH was found to have an excitation temperature of at least 100 K and column densities above 1015 cm-2. The formation of HCOOH is probably related to grain-surface chemistry in hot cores. Abundance comparisons with other complex O- and N-bearing molecules such as HCOOCH3 and ethyl cyanide (C2H5CN) will be discussed.

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