[C II] 158 μm self-absorption and optical depth effects
Context. The [C II] 158 μm far-infrared fine-structure line is one of the most important cooling lines of the star-forming interstellar medium (ISM). It is used as a tracer of star formation efficiency in external galaxies and to study feedback effects in parental clouds. High spectral resolution observations have shown complex structures in the line profiles of the [C II] emission.
Aims: Our aim is to determine whether the complex profiles observed in [12C II] are due to individual velocity components along the line-of-sight or to self-absorption based on a comparison of the [12C II] and isotopic [13C II] line profiles.
Methods: Deep integrations with the SOFIA/upGREAT 7-pixel array receiver in the sources of M43, Horsehead PDR, Monoceros R2, and M17 SW allow for the detection of optically thin [13C II] emission lines, along with the [12C II] emission lines, with a high signal-to-noise ratio. We first derived the [12C II] optical depth and the [C II] column density from a single component model. However, the complex line profiles observed require a double layer model with an emitting background and an absorbing foreground. A multi-component velocity fit allows us to derive the physical conditions of the [C II] gas: column density and excitation temperature.
Results: We find moderate to high [12C II] optical depths in all four sources and self-absorption of [12C II] in Mon R2 and M17 SW. The high column density of the warm background emission corresponds to an equivalent Av of up to 41 mag. The foreground absorption requires substantial column densities of cold and dense [C II] gas, with an equivalent Av ranging up to about 13 mag.
Conclusions: The column density of the warm background material requires multiple photon-dominated region surfaces stacked along the line of sight and in velocity. The substantial column density of dense and cold foreground [C II] gas detected in absorption cannot be explained with any known scenario and we can only speculate on its origins.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- April 2020
- submillimeter: ISM;
- photon-dominated region;
- ISM: atoms;
- ISM: clouds;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 40 pages, 49 figures