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PO and PN in the wind of the oxygen-rich AGB star IK Tau

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We present the first detections of PN and PO in an O-rich AGB star and estimate abundances X(PN/H2) of about 3x10^-7 and X(PO/H2) in the range 0.5-6.0x10^-7. This is several orders of magnitude higher than what is found for the C-rich AGB star IRC +10216. The diameter (<=0.7") of the PN and PO emission distributions measured in the interferometric data corresponds to a maximum radial extent of about 40 stellar radii. The abundances and the spatial occurrence of the molecules are in very good agreement with the results reported for VY CMa. We did not detect PS or PH3 in the survey. We suggest that PN and PO are the main carriers of phosphorus in the gas phase, with abundances possibly up to several 10^-7. The current chemical models cannot account for this, underlining the strong need for updated chemical models that include phosphorous compounds.

Authors: E. De Beck, T. KamiƄski, N. A. Patel, K. H. Young, C. A. Gottlieb, K. M. Menten, L. Decin

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