Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

High resolution acetic acid survey and water vapor radiometer
by Shiao, Yu-Shao, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008, 130; 3337928
Abstract (Summary)

Planets, comets, stars, galaxies and the interstellar medium (ISM) emit complex but distinct molecular spectra. These spectra reveal the chemical composition and physical conditions in the objects. For example, many biologically important molecules, such as acetic acid, formic acid, vinyl cyanide and ethyl cyanide, have been detected in hot molecular cores in the ISM. A diversity of molecules creates complicated and yet interesting astrochemistry in hot cores. However, the formation mechanisms of large molecules are still unclear. Hence large molecule observations are essential to understand hot core chemistry. Among these molecules, acetic acid is one of the most important large species in hot cores. It is a possible precursor of glycine, the simplest amino acid. It only has been detected in high-mass hot cores without oxygen/nitrogen chemical differentiation, which is key to hot core chemical models. Using the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA), we have conducted an acetic acid survey in hot cores. In our survey, we have discovered a new acetic acid hot core, G19.61-0.23, which also shows no chemical differentiation. Therefore, we suggest that both large oxygen and nitrogen-bearing species play important roles in acetic acid formation.

Ground-based interferometric observations are severely affected by atmospheric conditions. Phase correction is a technique to obtain high quality data and achieve great scientific goals. For our acetic acid survey, a better phase correction technique can not only detect weaker transitions of large molecules, but also increase the map resolution of hot cores. Water vapor radiometers (WVRs) are designed to improve the technique by observing tropospheric water vapor along the lines of sight of interferometers. We have numerically demonstrated the importance of phase correction for interferometric observations and examined the water vapor phase correction technique. Furthermore, we have built two WVR prototypes with new calibration, thermal regulation and backend systems. The WVR prototypes had been tested in a laboratory, on a roof and at the CARMA site to verify their performance. We conclude the WVR thermal stability and dynamic range are critical while the enormous and rapid fluctuations of the sky background emission overwhelm the WVR dynamic range and degrade the WVR sensitivity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Looney, Leslie
School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 69/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Astronomy
Keywords: Acetic acid, Phase correction, Water vapor radiometer
Publication Number: 3337928
ISBN: 978-0-549-91208-8
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