Calibrating column density tracers with gamma-ray observations of the ρ Ophiuchi molecular cloud.
ABRAHAMS R.D., TEACHEY A. and PAGLIONE T.A.D.
Abstract (from CDS):
Diffuse gamma-ray emission from interstellar clouds results largely from cosmic ray (CR) proton collisions with ambient gas, regardless of the gas state, temperature, or dust properties of the cloud. The interstellar medium is predominantly transparent to both CRs and gamma-rays, so GeV emission is a unique probe of the total gas column density. The gamma-ray emissivity of a cloud of known column density is then a measure of the impinging CR population and may be used to map the k-scale CR distribution in the Galaxy. To this end, we test a number of commonly used column density tracers to evaluate their effectiveness in modeling the GeV emission from the relatively quiescent, nearby ρ Ophiuchi molecular cloud. We confirm that both H i and an appropriate H2 tracer are required to reproduce the total gas column densities probed by diffuse gamma-ray emisison. We find that the optical depth at 353 GHz (τ353) from Planck best reproduces the gamma-ray data overall, based on the test statistic across the entire region of interest, but near-infrared stellar extinction also performs very well, with smaller spatial residuals in the densest parts of the cloud.