A Herschel [C ii] Galactic plane survey
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109-8099, USA
Received: 30 January 2013
Accepted: 11 April 2013
Context. The [C ii] 158 μm line is an important tool for understanding the life cycle of interstellar matter. Ionized carbon is present in a variety of phases of the interstellar medium (ISM), including the diffuse ionized medium, warm and cold atomic clouds, clouds in transition from atomic to molecular, and dense and warm photon dominated regions.
Aims. Velocity-resolved observations of [C ii] are the most powerful technique available to disentangle the emission produced by these components. These observations can also be used to trace CO-dark H2 gas and determine the total mass of the ISM.
Methods. The Galactic Observations of Terahertz C+ (GOT C+) project surveys the [C ii] 158 μm line over the entire Galactic disk with velocity-resolved observations using the Herschel/HIFI instrument. We present the first longitude-velocity maps of the [C ii] emission for Galactic latitudes b = 0°, ±0.5°, and ±1.0°. We combine these maps with those of H i, 12CO, and 13CO to separate the different phases of the ISM and study their properties and distribution in the Galactic plane.
Results. [C ii] emission is mostly associated with spiral arms, mainly emerging from Galactocentric distances between 4 and 10 kpc. It traces the envelopes of evolved clouds as well as clouds that are in the transition between atomic and molecular. We estimate that most of the observed [C ii] emission is produced by dense photon dominated regions (~47%), with smaller contributions from CO-dark H2 gas (~28%), cold atomic gas (~21%), and ionized gas (~4%). Atomic gas inside the Solar radius is mostly in the form of cold neutral medium (CNM), while the warm neutral medium gas dominates the outer galaxy. The average fraction of CNM relative to total atomic gas is ~43%. We find that the warm and diffuse CO-dark H2 is distributed over a larger range of Galactocentric distances (4−11 kpc) than the cold and dense H2 gas traced by 12CO and 13CO (4−8 kpc). The fraction of CO-dark H2 to total H2 increases with Galactocentric distance, ranging from ~20% at 4 kpc to ~80% at 10 kpc. On average, CO-dark H2 accounts for ~30% of the molecular mass of the Milky Way. When the CO-dark H2 component is included, the radial distribution of the CO-to-H2 conversion factor is steeper than that when only molecular gas traced by CO is considered. Most of the observed [C ii] emission emerging from dense photon dominated regions is associated with modest far-ultraviolet fields in the range χ0 ≃ 1 − 30.
Key words: ISM: general / stars: formation / evolution / ISM: clouds / ISM: structure / submillimeter: ISM
Herschel is an ESA space observatory with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia and with important participation from NASA.
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© ESO, 2013