3 years ago

Mapping low frequency carbon radio recombination lines towards Cassiopeia A at 340, 148, 54 and 43 MHz.

Mark G. Wolfire, Reinout J. van Weeren, M. Carmen Toribio, Pedro Salas, Alexander G. G. M. Tielens, Huub J. A. Röttgering, Kimberly L. Emig, J. B. Raymond Oonk

Quantitative understanding of the interstellar medium requires knowledge of its physical conditions. Low frequency carbon radio recombination lines (CRRLs) trace cold interstellar gas, and can be used to determine its physical conditions (e.g., electron temperature and density). In this work we present spatially resolved observations of the low frequency ($\leq390$ MHz) CRRLs centered around C$268\alpha$, C$357\alpha$, C$494\alpha$ and C$539\alpha$ towards Cassiopeia A on scales of $\leq1.2$ pc. We compare the spatial distribution of CRRLs with other ISM tracers. This comparison reveals a spatial offset between the peak of the CRRLs and other tracers, which is very characteristic for photodissociation regions and that we take as evidence for CRRLs being preferentially detected from the surfaces of molecular clouds. Using the CRRLs we constrain the gas electron temperature and density. These constraints on the gas conditions suggest variations of less than a factor of two in pressure over $\sim1$ pc scales, and an average hydrogen density of $200$-$470$ cm$^{-3}$. From the electron temperature and density maps we also constrain the ionized carbon emission measure, column density and path length. Based on these, the hydrogen column density is larger than $10^{22}$ cm$^{-2}$, with a peak of $\sim4\times10^{22}$ cm$^{-2}$ towards the South of Cassiopeia A. Towards the southern peak the line of sight length is $\sim40$ pc over a $\sim2$ pc wide structure, which implies that the gas is a thin surface layer on a large (molecular) cloud that is only partially intersected by Cassiopeia A. These observations highlight the utility of CRRLs as tracers of low density extended HI and CO-dark gas halo's around molecular clouds.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.05298

DOI: arXiv:1801.05298v1

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