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Volume 484, Number 1, June II 2008
Page(s) 17 - 28
Section Astrophysical processes
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20078819
Published online 19 March 2008

A&A 484, 17-28 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20078819

Three-fluid plasmas in star formation

II. Momentum transfer rate coefficients
C. Pinto1 and D. Galli2

1  Dipartimento di Astronomia e Scienza dello Spazio, Università di Firenze, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy
    e-mail: cecilia@arcetri.astro.it
2  INAF - Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy

Received 9 October 2007 / Accepted 16 February 2008

Context. The charged component of the insterstellar medium consists of atomic and molecular ions, electrons, and charged dust grains, coupled to the local Galactic magnetic field. Collisions between neutral particles (mostly atomic or molecular hydrogen) and charged species, and between the charged species themselves, affect the magnetohydrodynamical behaviour of the medium and the dissipation of electric currents.
Aims. The friction force due to elastic collisions between particles of different species in the multi-component interstellar plasma is a nonlinear function of the temperature of each species and the Mach number of the relative drift velocity. The aim of this paper is to provide an accurate and, as far as possible, complete set of momentum transfer rate coefficients for magnetohydrodynamical studies of the interstellar medium.
Methods. Momentum transfer rates are derived from available experimental data and theoretical calculations of cross sections within the classic approach developed by Boltzmann and Langevin for a wide range of values of the temperature and the drift velocity.
Results. Accurate numerical values for momentum transfer rates are obtained and fitted to simple analytical formulae expressing the dependence of the results on the gas temperature and the relative drift velocity. The often used polarization approximation is in satisfactory agreement with our results only for collisions between H2 and molecular ions (HCO+, H3+). For other kinds of collisions, the polarization approximation fails by large factors, and must be replaced by more accurate expressions.

Key words: atomic processes -- molecular processes -- plasmas -- magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) -- ISM: clouds -- ISM: jets and outflows

© ESO 2008

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