Atomic carbon is a temperature probe in dark clouds.
TATEMATSU K., JAFFE D.T., PLUME R., EVANS II N.J. and KEENE J.
Abstract (from CDS):
We have mapped the C I 3P1⟶3P0 line at 492 GHz in three molecular clouds immersed in weak ultraviolet radiation fields, TMC-1, L134N, and IC 5146. In all three clouds, the C I peak T*A∼1 K, with very small dispersion. The spatial C I distribution is extended and rather smooth. The J=2⟶1 transitions of CO isotopomers were observed at the same angular resolution as C I. The C I peak T*A is typically one-third of the peak T*A of 13CO J=2⟶1, and the C I emission is usually more extended than emission in 13CO or C18O J=2⟶1. The C I line width is close to the 13CO J=2⟶1 line width, larger than the C18O J=2⟶1 line width and smaller than the 12CO J=2⟶1 line width. The shapes of these lines occasionally differ significantly, probably because of the combined effects of differing opacities and the physical separation of the line-forming regions. The uniformity of the C I peak T*A is remarkable for a line in the Wien portion of the Planck function and indicates a very uniform excitation temperature. This uniformity is best explained if the line is opaque and thermalized. If so, the C I line probes kinetic temperature in clouds exposed to low-ultraviolet fluxes. This conclusion has significant implications for the thermal balance in such clouds. At AV≃2, these clouds have a remarkably constant temperature from place to place and from cloud to cloud (7.9±0.8 K). Photodissociation region models of clouds immersed in the mean interstellar radiation field tend to predict stronger lines than we see, but this may be an artifact of assumptions about the temperature.