Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 493, 557-563 (2009/1-2)
The importance of non-LTE models for the interpretation of observations of interstellar NO.
LIQUE F., VAN DER TAK F.F.S., KLOS J., BULTHUIS J. and ALEXANDER M.H.
Abstract (from CDS):
The ALMA and Herschel missions promise to deliver data of high spatial and spectral resolution at far-infrared and sub-millimeter wavelengths. Modeling these data will require the knowledge of accurate radiative and collisional rates for species of astrophysical interest. We calculate the rotational excitation rate coefficients of NO in collisions with He and check the validity of the LTE approach in interpreting observations of rotational lines of NO. State-to-state rate coefficients between the 360 lowest hyperfine levels of NO were calculated using the MJ randomizing limit method for temperatures from 10K to 350K. We performed calculations of the excitation of NO using the new rate coefficients using a large velocity gradient (LVG) radiative transfer code. The critical densities of the lines are found to be at >105cm–3. The low dipole moment of NO ensures that the line emission is optically thin up to column densities of ∼1015cm–2. Lines in the ground (Ω=1/2) state are readily detectable in typical conditions (N(NO)=1013cm–2; T=10-30K), whereas lines in the excited Ω=3/2 state are observed only in warm (T>50K) regions with higher column densities (N(NO)=1014cm–2). Line ratios of NO may well be used to constrain the ambient temperature and/or density. The new rate coefficients will help significantly in interpreting NO emission lines observed with current and future telescopes, and enable this molecule to become a powerful astrophysical tool.
ISM: molecules - molecular data - radiative transfer