Astrophys. J., 734, 65 (2011/June-2)
The distribution of thermal pressures in the diffuse, cold neutral medium of our galaxy. II. An expanded survey of interstellar C I fine-structure excitations.
JENKINS E.B. and TRIPP T.M.
Abstract (from CDS):
We analyzed absorption features arising from interstellar neutral carbon that appeared in the UV spectra of 89 stars recorded in the highest resolution echelle modes of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph on board the Hubble Space Telescope so that we could determine the relative populations of collisionally excited fine-structure levels in the atom's electronic ground state. From this information, in combination with molecular hydrogen rotation temperatures, we derive the distribution of thermal pressures in the diffuse, cold neutral medium (CNM). We find a lognormal pressure distribution (weighted by mass) with a mean in log (p/k) equal to 3.58 and an rms dispersion of at least 0.175 dex that plausibly arises from turbulence with a characteristic Mach number in the range 1 < M < 4. The extreme tails in the distribution are, however, above the lognormal function. Overall, pressures are well correlated with local starlight intensities and extreme kinematics, and they show some anticorrelation with kinetic temperatures. A subsample restricted to low ambient UV intensities reveals a mode in the distribution of log (p/k) that is nearly the same as the complete sample, but with a strong negative skewness created by a near absence of a tail at high pressures. Approximately 23% of this gas is at a pressure that is below that which is allowed for a static CNM. Accompanying nearly all of the gas is a small fraction (∼0.05%) that has an extraordinarily large pressure, log (p/k) > 5.5, and this condition is more prevalent at high velocities or for regions with enhanced starlight densities. This survey suggests that the dispersion of thermal pressures in the CNM is predominantly governed by microscopic turbulence driven by star-forming regions, with some additional effects from macroscopic events (e.g., supernova explosions), and these measurements provide constraints for future studies of the broader impact of turbulence on the ISM and star formation.
ISM: atoms - ISM: kinematics and dynamics - ISM: lines and bands - techniques: spectroscopic - turbulence - ultraviolet: ISM
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<Available at CDS (J/ApJ/734/65): table2.dat table4.dat>
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