Context. Observations of the emission of the carbon cycle species (C, C+, CO) are commonly used to diagnose gas properties in the interstellar medium, but they are significantly sensitive to the cosmic-ray ionization rate. The carbon-cycle chemistry is known to be quite sensitive to the cosmic-ray ionization rate, ζ, controlled by the flux of low-energy cosmic rays which get attenuated through molecular clouds. However, astrochemical models commonly assume a constant cosmic-ray ionization rate in the clouds.
Aims: We investigate the effect of cosmic-ray attenuation on the emission of carbon cycle species from molecular clouds, in particular the [CII] 158 μm, [CI] 609 μm, and CO (J = 1-0) 115.27 GHz lines.
Methods: We used a post-processed chemical model of diffuse and dense simulated molecular clouds and quantified the variation in both column densities and velocity-integrated line emission of the carbon cycle with different cosmic-ray ionization rate models.
Results: We find that the abundances and column densities of carbon cycle species are significantly impacted by the chosen cosmic-ray ionization rate model: no single constant ionization rate can reproduce the abundances modeled with an attenuated cosmic-ray model. Further, we show that constant ionization rate models fail to simultaneously reproduce the integrated emission of the lines we consider, and their deviations from a physically derived cosmic-ray attenuation model is too complex to be simply corrected. We demonstrate that the two clouds we modeled exhibit a similar average AV,eff - nH relationship, resulting in an average relation between the cosmic-ray ionization rate and density ζ(nH).
Conclusions: We conclude by providing a number of implementation recommendations for cosmic rays in astrochemical models, but emphasize the necessity for column-dependent cosmic-ray ionization rate prescriptions.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- February 2022
- ISM: abundances;
- ISM: clouds;
- cosmic rays;
- ISM: molecules;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- Accepted to A&