Discrepancies between the [O iii] and [S iii] temperatures in H ii regions
1 Département de Physique, de Génie Physique et d’Optique, Université Laval, Québec, QC, G1V 0A6, Canada
2 Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, D.F., Mexico
3 Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina
4 Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y Geofísicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Paseo del Bosque s/n, 1900 La Plata, Argentina
5 Departamento de Física Teórica, C-XI, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain
6 Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Cotter Rd., Weston ACT 2611, Australia
7 Centro de Investigaciones de Astronomía, Av. Alberto Carnevalli, Mérida, Venezuela
8 Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA
9 Instituto de Ciencias Nucleares, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ap. 70-543, 04510 D.F., Mexico
Received: 30 April 2012
Accepted: 10 September 2012
Context. Analysis of published [O iii] and [S iii] temperatures measurements of emission line objects consisting of Hii galaxies, giant extragalactic Hii regions, Galactic Hii regions, and Hii regions from the Magellanic Clouds reveal that the [O iii] temperatures are higher than the corresponding values from [S iii] in most objects with gas metallicities in excess of 0.2 solar. For the coolest nebulae (the highest metallicities), the [O iii] temperature excess can reach ~3000 K.
Aims. We look for an explanation for these temperature differences and explore the parameter space of models with the aim of reproducing the observed trend of TO iii > TS iii in Hii regions with temperatures below 14 000 K.
Methods. Using standard photoionization models, we varied the ionization parameter, the hardness of the ionizing continuum, and the gas metallicities in order to characterize how models behave with respect to the observations. We introduced temperature inhomogeneities and varied their mean squared amplitude t2 . We explored the possibility of inhomogeneities in abundances by combining two models of widely different metallicity. We calculated models that consider the possibility of a non-Maxwell-Boltzmann energy distribution (a κ-distribution) for the electron energies. We also considered shock heating within the photoionized nebula.
Results. Simple photoionization calculations yield nearly equal [O iii] and [S iii] temperatures in the domain of interest. Hence these models fail to reproduce the [O iii] temperature excess. Models that consider temperature inhomogeneities, as measured by the mean squared amplitude t2 , also fail in the regime where TO iii < 14 000 K. Three options remain that can reproduce the observed excess in TO iii temperatures: (1) large metallicity inhomogeneities in the nebula; a (2) κ-distribution for the electron energies; and (3) shock waves that propagate in the photoionized plasma at velocities ~60 km s-1.
Conclusions. The observed nebular temperatures are not reproduced by varying the input parameters in the pure photoionization case nor by assuming local temperature inhomogeneities. We find that (1) metallicity inhomogeneities of the nebular gas; (2) shock waves of velocities ≲ 60 km s-1 propagating in a photoionized plasma; and (3) an electron energy distribution given by a κ-distribution are successful in reproducing the observed excess in the [O iii] temperatures. However, shock models require proper 3D hydrodynamical simulations to become a fully developed alternative while models with metallicity inhomogeneities appear to fail in metal-poor nebulae, since they result in TrecO++ ≳ TO iii .
Key words: HII regions / ISM: lines and bands / shock waves / line: formation
© ESO, 2012