EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 492, Number 3, December IV 2008
Page(s) 743 - 755
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:200810525

A&A 492, 743-755 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:200810525

A CO J = 1–0 survey of common optical/uv absorption sightlines

H. S. Liszt

National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA, 22903-2475, USA
    e-mail: hliszt@nrao.edu

Received 4 July 2008 / Accepted 17 October 2008

Context. Comparison of optical/uv absorption line data with high-resolution profiles of mm-wave CO emission provides complementary information on the absorbing gas, as toward $\zeta$ Oph. Over the past thirty years a wealth of observations of CO and other molecules in optical/uv absorption in diffuse clouds has accumulated for which no comparable CO emission line data exist.
Aims. To acquire mm-wave J=1–0 CO emission line profiles toward a substantial sample of commonly-studied optical/uv absorption line targets and to compare with the properties of the absorbing gas, especially the predicted emission line strengths.
Methods. Using the ARO 12 m telescope, we observed mm-wavelength J=1–0 CO emission with spectral resolution $R \approx 3\times 10^6$ and spatial resolution 1$^{\prime}$ toward a sample of 110 lines of sight previously studied in optical/uv absorption lines of CO, H2, CH, etc.
Results. Interstellar CO emission was detected along 65 of the 110 lines of sight surveyed and there is a general superabundance of CO emission given the distribution of galactic latitudes in the survey sample. Much of the emission is optically thick or very intense and must emanate from dark clouds or warm dense gas near HII regions.
Conclusions. Judging from the statistical superabundance of CO emission, seen also in the total line of sight reddening, the OB star optical/uv absorption line targets must be physically associated with the large quantities of neutral gas whose CO emission was detected, in which case they are probably influencing the absorbing gas by heating and/or photoionizing it. This explains why CO/H2 and 12CO/13CO  ratios differ somewhat between uv and mm-wave absorption line studies. Because the lines of sight have been preselected to have $A_{\rm V}$$\la$ 1 mag, relatively little of the associated material actually occults the targets, making it difficult for CO emission line observations to isolate the foreground gas contribution.

Key words: ISM: molecules -- ISM: clouds -- astrochemistry

© ESO 2008

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