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Keywords:

  • astrochemistry;
  • stars: formation;
  • ISM: abundances;
  • ISM: molecules

ABSTRACT

Despite its potential reactivity due to ring strain, ethylene oxide (c-C2H4O) is a complex molecule that seems to be stable under the physical conditions of an interstellar dense core; indeed, it has been detected towards several high-mass star-forming regions with a column density of the order of 1013 cm−2. To date, its observational abundances cannot be reproduced by chemical models and this may be due to the significant contribution played by its chemistry on grain surfaces. Recently, Ward & Price have performed experiments in order to investigate the surface formation of ethylene oxide starting with oxygen atoms and ethylene ice as reactants. We present a chemical model which includes the most recent experimental results from Ward & Price on the formation of c-C2H4O. We study the influence of the physical parameters of dense cores on the abundances of c-C2H4O. We verify that ethylene oxide can indeed be formed during the cold phase (when the interstellar medium dense cores are formed), via addition of an oxygen atom across the C=C double bond of the ethylene molecule, and released by thermal desorption during the hot core phase. A qualitative comparison between our theoretical results and those from the observations shows that we are able to reproduce the abundances of ethylene oxide towards high-mass star-forming regions.