The Interstellar Medium Astronomy 216 Spring 2005

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1 The Interstellar Medium Astronomy 216 Spring 2005 Al Glassgold & James Graham University of California, Berkeley

2 The Interstellar Medium/Media (ISM) What is the ISM? Just what it says: The stuff between the stars in and around galaxies, especially our own Milky Way: Gas, dust, radiation, cosmic rays, magnetic fields. Why do we study the ISM? Gas is where it all started back then at Recombination. Part of the effort to understand the evolution of baryonic matter through all time. Why is the ISM important? Stars form from the ISM, and then they activate it dynamically and chemically on dying: Gas is the active chemical ingredient of galaxies.

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4 Condensed Syllabus Spring 2005

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6 Seeing the ISM Can we see the ISM the same way we see the Sun and the stars shine? In principle, yes, but it s hard because gas at temperatures like the surfaces of stars cools rapidly unless its heated somehow, e.g., by being close to a star. This kind of gas is called nebular and has characteristic emission lines. Most of the gas in galaxies is relatively cold and, since a typical wavelength is inversely proportional to temperature, is only observable in emission in bands outside of the Visible, unavailable until the second half of the 20 th century. Large volumes of gas are hot, and require short wavelength observations (UV & X-rays) with satellite observatories.

7 A Little Bit of History Discovery of the Orion Nebula (1610) fueled speculation about gas clouds. Nebulae figured prominently in the Messier Catalog. Nebular emission lines discovered visually in NGC 6543 by Wm. Huggins (1864); detection in Orion Nebula by M. Huggins (1889). First photograph of the Orion Nebula by Henry Draper (1880) HST (O Dell)

8 Discovery of Interstellar Clouds (away from stars) First interstellar absorption line: Hartmann s Potsdam observations reprinted in ApJ 19, 268, 1904: Stationary narrow dip in broad oscillating Ca II stellar absorption line of binary Delta Orionis (O9.5) For 75 years, the measurement at high spectral resolution (up to R = 300,000 or 1 km/s) of absorption lines in the optical spectra of nearby bright stars was almost the only way of quantitatively studying cool interstellar clouds (especially low IP systems like Na I, K I, Ca II). Space Astronomy strongly impacted this field in 1973 with Lyman Spitzer s UV satellite, Copernicus, allowing the transitions of abundant species to be used, e.g., H2, HI Ly-α, & the lines of C IV, N V, & O VI (diagnostic of warm gas). Copernicus was followed by IUE, HST and FUSE.

9 Interstellar Clouds Appear Dark Lund Observatory Photos of the Milky Way These long-known dark regions were studied by Barnard in the 1 st quarter and by Bok in the 3 rd quarter of the 20 th century. They appear dark here because (1) they do not emit at optical wavelengths & (2) their dust blocks the light of the stars.

10 Example of a Well-Studied Dark Could B68 Stars gradually appear as the observing band changes from B to K due to the decreasing absorption with wavelength of small dust particles. This extinction property was confirmed by Trumpler (1930) by comparing luminosity and angular-diameter distances of open clusters.

11 Interstellar Dust and Space Astronomy Much of the electromagnetic spectrum is obscured by the Earth s atmosphere: This is relevant for small but macroscopic dust particles that absorb continuously across the entire spectrum. Dust particles efficiently absorb short-wavelength radiation emitted by stars and re-radiate at longer wavelengths characteristic of their relatively low temperatures. This includes much of the atmospherically obscured infrared: observing dust emission requires observations from space.

12 Atmospheric transparency from Mauna Kea (A. Tokunaga, in Allen s Astrophysical Quantities NIR FIR

13 Interstellar Dust and Space Astronomy IR space observations in the last 20 years: IRAS 1983 COBE 1991 ISO SIRTF/SPITZER 2003 Originally considered an embarrassing obstacle to astronomical observing, the scientific study of cosmic dust is a challenging and important part of astronomy, e.g., the terrestrial planets and the rocky cores of giant planets were formed from circumstellar dust.

14 IRAS All Sky Image of the Milky Way (0.5 resolution) Ophiuchus Blue: 12 µm Green: 60 µm Red: 100 µm Zodiacal light LMC Orion Notice the wide distribution of 100 µm cirrus emission out of the Milky Way plane.

15 Far-IR Spectrum of the ISM COBE spectrum of the Galactic plane, mm Two main components: CMBR & Dust Dust peak 140 µm, corresponds to Tdust 20 K There also lines! The most prominent is the ground state finestructure transition of C + at µm, with an energy level spacing of 93K. This line is characteristic of warm partially ionized gas from much of the Milky Way, where C is ionized by far UV photons (hv > ev)

16 Radio Astronomy (The other long wavelength observational revolution) Rapid development from WWII & radar. ISM milestones: The detection of the H 21-cm line (1951) The radio detection of interstellar molecules (1963) CO as the tracer or molecular material (> 1970) QuickTime and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. CO(1-0) Map of the Milky Way (Columbia/CfA Mini-telescope Project)

17 Radio Astronomy: Early ISM Milestones Detection of the H 21-cm line: Predicted by van de Hulst (1945). Post-WWII detection race won in by Ewen & Purcell over Muller & Oort (1951). Seen everywhere in the sky. Early optical detections of interstellar molecules: CH Dunham et al. (1937) CN Swings & Rosenfeld (1937) CH+ McKellar (1940) Radio detection of molecules pioneered by C. H. Townes: OH (Weinreb et al. (1963) NH3 & H2O (Cheung et al. 1968, 1969 (Townes & Welch Berkeley collaboration) H2CO Snyder at al. (1969) CO Wilson, Jefferts, & Penzias (1970) CO and the > 125 interstellar molecules are crucial for studying the cold and warm dense gas of galaxies.

18 General Properties of the ISM Mostly confined to the disk some dilute gas in the halo, as in E galaxies Large ranges in temperature & density T K & n cm -3 Even dense regions are ultra-high vacuum lab UHV:10-10 Torr (n cm -3 ) (STP conditions: n cm -3) Far from thermodynamic equilibrium complex processes & interesting physics

19 Cosmic (Solar) Abundances Element Abundance Element Abundance H 1.00 Mg He 0.10 Al C Si N S O Ca Na Fe Mass fractions of H, He and heavier elements metals X = 0.71, Y = 0.27, Z = 0.02 Standard reference abundances Chondritic meteorites and the Sun - very similar, presumably like the ISM 4.5 x 10 9 yr ago HII regions- gas phase only B-stars - recent ISM (some discrepancies e.g., C)

20 Classification by Ionization State of Hydrogen ISM composition similar to solar system - H is most abundant element ( 90% of atoms) The regions of interest are characterized by the state of hydrogen: Ionized atomic hydrogen (H + or H II) H-two Neutral atomic hydrogen (H 0 or H I) H-one Molecular hydrogen (H 2 ) H-two Labeled as H II, H I, or H 2 regions, with thin transition zones H II H I H 2

21 Ionized Gas H II regions - bright nebulae associated with regions of star formation & molecular clouds; ionized by stellar UV photons from early-type (OB) stars T 10 4 K & n e cm -3 Warm Ionized Medium (WIM) T 8000 K & n e cm -3 Hot Ionized Medium (HIM) tenuous gas pervading the ISM, ionized by electron impact T 4.5 x 10 5 K & n cm -3 Our goal: Understand how these phases are observed and how they are heated and ionized.

22 H I Regions Cool clouds (CNM) T 100 K & n 40 cm -3 Warm neutral gas (WNM) T 7500 K & n 0.5 cm -3 Lyman-α forest intergalactic clouds with N HI > cm -2 Our goal: Understand how these properties are determined observationally and what are the relevant nthermal and ionizations processes.

23 Molecular Clouds Cold dark clouds (M M ) T 10 K & n cm -3 Giant molecular clouds (M M ) T 20 K & n cm -3 with complex structure that includes cores and clumps with densities n cm -3 Stars form in molecular clouds. Our goal: In addition to understanding the observations and underlying physical processes, can we find the connection between the molecular and atomic phases & how stars form.

24 Other Components of the ISM Dust Grains 0.1 µm in size, composed of silicates or carbonaceous material, constituting 1% by mass of the ISM Photons: CMB, star light (average interstellar radiation field or ISRF), X-rays (from hot gas & the extragalactic background) Magnetic fields Cosmic rays

25 Energies in the ISM 1. Kinetic energy of random (thermal) motion 2. Kinetic energy of organized fluid motion 3. Starlight 4. Magnetic fields 5. Cosmic rays 6. Cosmic Background Radiation Estimates for the LISM give typical numbers that are all about 0.5 ev cm -3, thereby offering the potential of significant interactions between these components

26 James Graham s Conception of The ISM as a Complex System Understanding the ISM means understanding the physical processes which drive mass, momentum and energy exchange between the stars and its components.

27 Motivation for Studying the ISM Star formation is the fundamental process that determines the observational properties of galaxies. The history of star formation should yield the Hubble sequence: smooth elliptical (E), spiral disk (S) & irregular (I) galaxies. The basic question is: How are baryons transformed into stars under the influence of: gravity (well understood) radiation pressure (small) ionizing fluxes (important) magnetic fields (poorly known) large scale motions (measurable) turbulent stresses (poorly understood)

28 Sampling of Broader Questions Why does star formation occur mostly in spiral arms What triggers star formation What determines the star formation rate in different Hubble types? What determines the initial mass function of stars? Why do stars form in multiples? How do planets form?

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