Spatial structure and collisionless electron heating in Balmer-dominated shocks.
VAN ADELSBERG M., HENG K., McCRAY R. and RAYMOND J.C.
Abstract (from CDS):
Balmer-dominated shocks in supernova remnants (SNRs) produce strong hydrogen lines with a two-component profile composed of a narrow contribution from cold upstream hydrogen atoms and a broad contribution from hydrogen atoms that have undergone charge transfer reactions with hot protons. Observations of emission lines from edgewise shocks in SNRs can constrain the gas velocity and collisionless electron heating at the shock front. Downstream hydrogen atoms engage in charge transfer, excitation, and ionization reactions, defining an interaction region called the shock transition zone. The properties of hot hydrogen atoms produced by charge transfers (called broad neutrals) are critical for accurately calculating the structure and radiation from the shock transition zone. This paper is the third in a series describing the kinetic, fluid, and emission properties of Balmer-dominated shocks, and it is the first to properly treat the effect of broad neutral kinetics on the shock transition zone structure. We use our models to extract shock parameters from observations of Balmer-dominated SNRs. We find that the inferred shock velocities and electron temperatures are lower than those of previous calculations by <10% for vs<1500 km/s and by 10%-30% for vs>1500 km/s. This effect is primarily due to the fact that excitation by proton collisions and charge transfer to excited levels favor the high-speed part of the neutral hydrogen velocity distribution. Our results have a strong dependence on the ratio of the electron to proton temperatures, β≡Te/Tp, which allows us to construct a relation β(vs) between the temperature ratio and the shock velocity. We compare our calculations to previous results by Ghavamian and coworkers.