Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 468, 1084-1091 (2017/June-2)
The rotational excitation of the HCN and HNC molecules by H2 revisited.
HERNANDEZ VERA M., LIQUE F., DUMOUCHEL F., HILY-BLANT P. and FAURE A.
Abstract (from CDS):
HCN and HNC are two fundamental molecules in the dense interstellar medium. The HNC/HCN abundance ratio depends on the kinetic temperature and can be used to explore the physical and chemical conditions of star-forming regions. Modelling of HCN and HNC emissions from interstellar clouds requires to model their collisional and radiative excitations. We report the calculation of the HCN and HNC excitation rate coefficients among the first 26 rotational levels due to H2 collisions, for temperatures ranging from 5 to 500 K, using the exact close coupling and the approximate coupled states methods. We found a propensity for even Δj transitions in the case of HCN-para-H2 collisions, whereas a propensity for odd Δj transitions is observed in the case of HNC-para-H2 collisions. For collisions with ortho-H2, both molecules show a propensity rule favouring transitions with odd Δj. The rate coefficients for HCN and HNC differ significantly, showing clearly that the collisional excitation of the two isomers is different, especially for para-H2. We also evaluate the impact of these new data on the astrophysical modelling through radiative transfer calculations. It is shown that specific calculations have to be performed for the two isomers and that the HNC/HCN abundance ratio in cold molecular clouds cannot be estimated from line intensity ratio. Finally, observations of the two isotopologues H13CN and HN13C towards a sample of prestellar cores are presented, and the larger excitation temperature of HN13C is well reproduced by our excitation model.