Clumpiness of the interstellar medium in the central parsec of the Galaxy from H2 flux–extinction correlation
LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité,
5 place Jules Janssen,
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
2 University of California Los Angeles, 430 Portola Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Accepted: 26 October 2018
Context. The central parsec of the Galaxy contains a young star cluster embedded in a complex interstellar medium. The latter mainly consists of a torus of dense clumps and streams of molecular gas (the circumnuclear disk) enclosing streamers of ionized gas (the Minispiral).
Aims. In this complex environment, knowledge of the local extinction that locally affects each feature is crucial to properly study and disentangle them. We previously studied molecular gas in this region and inferred an extinction map from two H2 lines. Extinction appears to be correlated with the dereddened flux in several contiguous areas in the field of view. Here, we discuss the origin of this local correlation.
Methods. We model the observed effect with a simple radiative transfer model. H2 emission arises from the surfaces of clumps (i.e., shells) that are exposed to the ambient ultraviolet (UV) radiation field. We consider the shell at the surface of an emitting clump. The shell has a varying optical depth and a screen of dust in front of it. The optical depth varies from one line of sight to another, either because of varying extinction coefficient from the shell of one clump to that of another or because of a varying number of identical clumps on the line of sight.
Results. In both scenarios, the model accurately reproduces the dependence of molecular gas emission and extinction. The reason for this correlation is that, in the central parsec, the molecular gas is mixed everywhere with dust that locally affects the observed gas emission. In addition, there is extinction due to foreground (“screen”) dust.
Conclusions. This analysis favors a scenario where the central parsec is filled with clumps of dust and molecular gas. Separating foreground from local extinction allows for a probe for local conditions (H2 is mixed with dust) and can also constrain the three-dimensional (3D) position of objects under study.
Key words: Galaxy: center / dust, extinction / infrared: ISM / ISM: structure / techniques: imaging spectroscopy
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