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Astron. Astrophys. 358, 689-700 (2000)

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ISO-SWS observations of pure rotational H2O absorption lines toward Orion-IRc2 *

C.M. Wright 1,2, E.F. vanDishoeck 1, J.H. Black 3, H. Feuchtgruber 4,5, J. Cernicharo 6, E. González-Alfonso 6,7 and Th. deGraauw 8

1 Leiden Observatory, P.O. Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
2 School of Physics, University College, Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia
3 Onsala Space Observatory, Chalmers University of Technology, 43992 Onsala, Sweden
4 ISO-SOC, ESA Astrophysics Division, P.O. Box 50727, 28080 Villafranca/Madrid, Spain
5 Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Postfach 1603, 85740 Garching bei München, Germany
6 CSIC-IEM, Serrano 121, 28006 Madrid, Spain
7 Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Dept. de Física, Campus Universitario, 28871 Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain
8 SRON, P.O. Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands

Received 12 August 1999 / Accepted 14 March 2000


First detections of thermal water vapor absorption lines have been made toward Orion IRc2 using the Short Wavelength Spectrometer (SWS) on board the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO). Grating spectra covering wavelengths 25-45 µm yield 19 pure rotational lines, originating from energy levels 200-750 K above ground. Fabry-Perot spectra of 5 transitions resolve the line profiles and reveal the H2O gas kinematics. The fact that all lines are seen in absorption is in striking contrast with data from the ISO Long Wavelength Spectrometer (LWS), where the H2O lines appear in emission. At least one line displays a P-Cygni type profile, which suggests that the water is located in an expanding shell centered on or near IRc2. The expansion velocity is 18 km s-1, in agreement with the value inferred from H2O maser observations by Genzel et al. (1981). Because the continuum is intense and likely formed in or near the water-containing gas, the excitation of the observed transitions is dominated by radiative processes. A simple, generalised curve-of-growth method is presented and used to analyze the data. A mean excitation temperature of 72 K and a total H2O column density of [FORMULA] cm-2 are inferred, each with an estimated maximum uncertainty of 20%. Combined with the H2 column density derived from ISO observations of the pure rotational H2 lines, and an assumed temperature of 200-350 K, the inferred H2O abundance is 2-5[FORMULA] in the warm shocked gas. This abundance is similar to that found recently by Harwit et al. (1998) toward Orion using data from the LWS, but higher than that found for most other shocked regions by, for example, Liseau et al. (1996).

Key words: stars: pre-main sequence – ISM: abundances – ISM: individual objects: Orion IRc2 – ISM: jets and outflows – ISM: molecules – infrared: ISM: lines and bands

* Based on observations with ISO, an ESA project with instruments funded by ESA Member States (especially the PI countries: France, Germany, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom) and with the participation of ISAS and NASA.

Send offprint requests to: C.M. Wright (wright@ph.adfa.edu.au)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: June 8, 2000