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A Herschel [C II] Galactic plane survey I: the global distribution of ISM gas components

A Herschel [C II] Galactic plane survey I: the global distribution of ISM gas components

Publication date: 12 June 2013

Authors: Pineda, J.L., et al.

Journal: Astronomy & Astrophysics
Volume: 554
Page: A103
Year: 2013

Copyright: ESO

Context. The [C II] 158 um line is an important tool for understanding the life cycle of interstellar matter. Ionized carbon is present in a variety of phases of the interstellar medium (ISM), including the diffuse ionized medium, warm and cold atomic clouds, clouds in transition from atomic to molecular, and dense and warm photon dominated regions (PDRs). Aims. Velocity-resolved observations of [C II] are the most powerful technique available to disentangle the emission produced by these components. These observations can also be used to trace CO-dark H2 gas and determine the total mass of the ISM. Methods. The Galactic Observations of Terahertz C+ (GOT C+) project surveys the [C II] 158 um line over the entire Galactic disk with velocity-resolved observations using the Herschel/HIFI instrument. We present the first longitude-velocity maps of the [C II] emission for Galactic latitudes b = 0°, ±0.5°, and ±1.0°. We combine these maps with those of HI, 12CO, and 13CO to separate the different phases of the ISM and study their properties and distribution in the Galactic plane. Results. [C II] emission is mostly associated with spiral arms, mainly emerging from Galactocentric distances between 4 and 10 kpc. It traces the envelopes of evolved clouds as well as clouds that are in the transition between atomic and molecular. We estimate that most of the observed [C II] emission is produced by dense photon dominated regions (~47%), with smaller contributions from CO- dark H2 gas (~28%), cold atomic gas (~21%), and ionized gas (~4%). Atomic gas inside the Solar radius is mostly in the form of cold neutral medium (CNM), while the warm neutral medium (WNM) gas dominates the outer galaxy. The average fraction of CNM relative to total atomic gas is ~43%.

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