The ALMA-PILS survey: Detection of CH$_{3}$NCO toward the low-mass protostar IRAS 16293-2422 and laboratory constraints on its formation [SSA]

Methyl isocyanate (CH$_{3}$NCO) belongs to a select group of interstellar molecules considered to be relevant precursors in the formation of larger organic compounds, including those with peptide bonds. The molecule has only been detected in a couple of high-mass protostars and potentially in comets. A formation route on icy grains has been postulated for this molecule but experimental confirmation is lacking. We unambiguously identify CH$_{3}$NCO for the first time in a solar-type protostar through 43 unblended transitions found in the ALMA Protostellar Interferometric Line Survey (PILS) of the low-mass protostellar binary IRAS 16293-2422. The molecule is detected toward both components of the binary with a ratio HNCO/CH$_3$NCO $\sim$4–12. The isomers CH$_{3}$CNO and CH$_3$OCN are not identified, resulting in upper abundance ratios of CH$_{3}$NCO/CH$_{3}$CNO > 100 and CH$_{3}$NCO/CH$_3$OCN > 10. The resulting abundance ratios compare well with those found for related N-containing species toward high-mass protostars. To constrain its formation, a set of cryogenic UHV experiments is performed. VUV irradiation of CH$_{4}$:HNCO mixtures at 20 K strongly indicate that methyl isocyanate can be formed in the solid-state through CH$_{3}$ and (H)NCO recombinations. Combined with gas-grain models that include this reaction, the solid-state route is found to be a plausible scenario to explain the abundances found in IRAS 16293-2422.

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N. Ligterink, A. Coutens, V. Kofman, et. al.
Fri, 10 Mar 17

Comments: Submitted for MNRAS; shared here on request by the editor. 13 pages, 8 figures