EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 487, Number 3, September I 2008
Page(s) 975 - 991
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:200809426
Published online 15 May 2008

A&A 487, 975-991 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:200809426

Modeling water emission from low-mass protostellar envelopes

T. A. van Kempen1, S. D. Doty2, E. F. van Dishoeck1, 3, M. R. Hogerheijde1, and J. K. Jørgensen4

1  Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
    e-mail: kempen@strw.leidenuniv.nl
2  Department of Physics and Astronomy, Denison University, Olin 109 Granville, OH 43023, USA
3  Max-Planck Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE), Giessenbachstr. 1, 85748 Garching, Germany
4  Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Universität Bonn, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany

Received 18 January 2008 / Accepted 3 April 2008

Context. Within low-mass star formation, water vapor plays a key role in the chemistry and energy balance of the circumstellar material. The Herschel Space Observatory will open up the possibility to observe water lines originating from a wide range of excitation energies.
Aims. Our aim is to simulate the emission of rotational water lines from envelopes characteristic of embedded low-mass protostars. A large number of parameters that influence the water line emission are explored: luminosity, density, density slope, and water abundances.
Methods. Both dust and water emission are modeled using full radiative transfer in spherical symmetry. The temperature profile is calculated for a given density profile. The H2O level populations and emission profiles are in turn computed with a non-LTE line code. The results are analyzed to determine the diagnostic value of different lines, and are compared with existing observations.
Results. Lines can be categorized in: (i) optically thick lines, including ground-state lines, mostly sensitive to the cold outer part; (ii) highly excited ( $E_{\rm u}>200$-250 K) optically thin lines sensitive to the abundance in the hot inner part; and (iii) lines which vary from optically thick to thin depending on the abundances.

Dust influences the emission of water significantly by becoming optically thick at the higher frequencies, and by pumping optically thin lines.
Conclusions. A good physical model of a source, including the correct treatment of dust, is a prerequisite for inferring the water abundance structure and possible jumps at the evaporation temperature from observations. The inner warm (T>100 K) envelope can be probed by highly excited lines, while a combination of excited and spectrally resolved ground state lines probes the outer envelope. Observations of H218O lines, although weak, provide even stronger constraints on abundances.

Key words: stars: pre-main sequence -- circumstellar matter -- stars: formation -- ISM: molecules -- submillimeter

© ESO 2008