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I have used recent laboratory studies on the reactions of the phosphorus hydride ions, PH(n)+ (n = 0-4) to construct a new model of phosphorus chemistry in interstellar clouds. I find that the non-detection of PN in cold, dark clouds in consistent with the chemical models only if the depletion of phosphorus in large, approximately 10(4) in TMC-1. Although the laboratory studies indicate that organo-phosphorus chains C(n)P can be formed, this large depletion precludes the detection of any phosphorus-bearing moleclues in cold clouds. However, in warm clouds associated with star formation, the depletion of phosphorus may be reduced. In this case one can reproduce the PN abundance toward Orion KL with a depletion factor of about 300. Interestingly, if the organo-phosphorus species are not destroyed by O atoms, I predict fractional abundances in Ori KL of between 10(-11) and 10(-10) for C(n)P (n = 2-4) and HCCP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-246
Number of pages6
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1991


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