Density-Enhanced Gas and Dust Shells in a New Chemical Model for IRC+10216

Martin Cordiner, TJ Millar

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A new chemical model is presented for the carbon-rich circumstellar envelope (CSE) of the asymptotic giant branch star IRC+10216. The model includes shells of matter with densities that are enhanced relative to the surrounding circumstellar medium. The chemical model uses an updated reaction network including reactions from the RATE06 database and a more detailed anion chemistry. In particular, new mechanisms are considered for the formation of CN-, C3N-, and C2H-, and for the reactions of hydrocarbon anions with atomic nitrogen and with the most abundant cations in the CSE. New reactions involving H- are included which result in the production of significant amounts of C2H- and CN- in the inner envelope. The calculated radial molecular abundance profiles for the hydrocarbons C2H, C4H, and C6H and the cyanopolyynes HC3N and HC5N show narrow peaks which are in better agreement with observations than previous models. Thus, the narrow rings observed in molecular microwave emission surrounding IRC+10216 are interpreted as arising in regions of the envelope where the gas and dust densities are greater than the surrounding circumstellar medium. Our models show that CN- and C2H- may be detectable in IRC+10216 despite the very low theorized radiative electron attachment rates of their parent neutral species. We also show that magnesium isocyanide (MgNC) can be formed in the outer envelope through radiative association involving Mg+ and the cyanopolyyne species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-78
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date30 Apr 2009
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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