Numerical models for the diffuse ionized gas in galaxies
I. Synthetic spectra of thermally excited gas with turbulent magnetic reconnection as energy source
Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Munich, Scheinerstraße 1, 81679 Munich, Germany
Received: 12 December 2008
Accepted: 17 March 2012
Aims. The aim of this work is to verify whether turbulent magnetic reconnection can provide the additional energy input required to explain the up to now only poorly understood ionization mechanism of the diffuse ionized gas (DIG) in galaxies and its observed emission line spectra.
Methods. We use a detailed non-LTE radiative transfer code that does not make use of the usual restrictive gaseous nebula approximations to compute synthetic spectra for gas at low densities. Excitation of the gas is via an additional heating term in the energy balance as well as by photoionization. Numerical values for this heating term are derived from three-dimensional resistive magnetohydrodynamic two-fluid plasma-neutral-gas simulations to compute energy dissipation rates for the DIG under typical conditions.
Results. Our simulations show that magnetic reconnection can liberate enough energy to by itself fully or partially ionize the gas. However, synthetic spectra from purely thermally excited gas are incompatible with the observed spectra; a photoionization source must additionally be present to establish the correct (observed) ionization balance in the gas.
Key words: magnetic fields / plasmas / galaxies: halos / galaxies: ISM
© ESO, 2012