The spin temperature of warm interstellar H I
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903-2475, USA
Corresponding author: H. S. Liszt, email@example.com
Accepted: 15 March 2001
Collisional excitation of the λ21 cm hyperfine transition is not strong enough to thermalize it in warm neutral ("intercloud") interstellar gas, which we show by simultaneously solving the equations of ionization and collisional equilibrium under typical conditions. Coupling of the λ21 cm excitation temperature and local gas motions may be established by the Ly-α radiation field, but only if strong Galactic Ly-α radiation permeates the gas in question. The Ly-α radiation tends to impart to the gas its own characteristic temperature, which is determined by the range of gas motions that occur on the spatial scale of the Ly-α scattering. In general, the calculation of H I spin temperatures is a more difficult and interesting problem than might have been expected, as is any interpretation of H I spin temperature measurements.
Key words: interstellar medium: general
© ESO, 2001