Testing the variability of the proton-to-electron mass ratio from observations of methanol in the dark cloud core L1498

M. Dapra, C. Henkel, S. A. Levshakov, K. M. Menten, S. Muller, H. L. Bethlem, S. Leurini, A. V. Lapinov, W. Ubachs

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The dependence of the proton-to-electron mass ratio, μ, on the local matter density was investigated using methanol emission in the dense dark cloud core L1498. Towards two different positions in L1498, five methanol transitions were detected and an extra line was tentatively detected at a lower confidence level in one of the positions. The observed centroid frequencies were then compared with their rest-frame frequencies derived from least-squares fitting to a large data set. Systematic effects, as the underlying methanol hyperfine structure and the Doppler tracking of the telescope, were investigated and their effects were included in the total error budget. The comparison between the observations and the rest-frame frequencies constrains potential μ variation at the level of Δμ/μ < 6 × 10−8, at a 3σ confidence level. For the dark cloud, we determine a total CH3OH (A+E) beam averaged column density of ∼3–4 × 1012 cm−2 (within roughly a factor of two), an E- to A-type methanol column density ratio of N(A-CH3OH)/N(E-CH3OH) ∼1.00 ± 0.15, a density of n(H2) = 3 × 105 cm−3 (again within a factor of two) and a kinetic temperature of Tkin = 6 ± 1 K. In a kinetic model including the line intensities observed for the methanol lines, the n(H2) density is higher and the temperature is lower than that derived in previous studies based on different molecular species; the intensity of the 10 → 1−1 E line strength is not well reproduced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4434-4443
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date13 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • ISM: abundances
  • ISM: clouds
  • elementary particles
  • radio lines: ISM
  • techniques: radial velocities


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