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Self-generated ultraviolet radiation in molecular shock waves: I. Effects of Lyman α, Lyman β, and two-photon continuum

Abstract : Context. Shocks are ubiquitous in the interstellar and intergalactic media, where their chemical and radiative signatures reveal the physical conditions in which they arise. Detailed astrochemical models of shocks at all velocities are necessary to understand the physics of many environments including protostellar outflows, supernova remnants, and galactic outflows.Aims. We present an accurate treatment of the self-generated ultraviolet (UV) radiation in models of intermediate velocity (VS = 25–60 km s−1), stationary, weakly magnetised, J-type, molecular shocks. We show how these UV photons modify the structure and chemical properties of shocks and quantify how the initial mechanical energy is reprocessed into line emission.Methods. We develop an iterative scheme to calculate the self-consistent UV radiation field produced by molecular shocks. The shock solutions computed with the Paris–Durham shock code are post-processed using a multi-level accelerated Λ-iteration radiative transfer algorithm to compute Lyman α, Lyman β, and two-photon continuum emission. The subsequent impacts of these photons on the ionisation and dissociation of key atomic and molecular species as well as on the heating by the photoelectric effect are calculated by taking the wavelength dependent interaction cross-sections and the fluid velocity profile into account. This leads to an accurate description of the propagation of photons and the thermochemical properties of the gas in both the postshock region and in the material ahead of the shock called the radiative precursor. With this new treatment, we analyse a grid of shock models with velocities in the range VS = 25–60 km s−1, propagating in dense (nH ≥ 104 cm−3) and shielded gas.Results. Self-absorption traps Lyα photons in a small region in the shock, though a large fraction of this emission escapes by scattering into the line wings. We find a critical velocity VS ~ 30 km s−1 above which shocks generate Lyα emission with a photon flux exceeding the flux of the standard interstellar radiation field. The escaping photons generate a warm slab of gas (T ~ 100 K) ahead of the shock front as well as pre-ionising C and S. Intermediate velocity molecular shocks are traced by bright emission of many atomic fine structure (e.g. O and S) and metastable (e.g. O and C) lines, substantive molecular emission (e.g. H2, OH, and CO), enhanced column densities of several species including CH+ and HCO+, as well as a severe destruction of H2O. As much as 13–21% of the initial kinetic energy of the shock escapes in Lyα and Lyβ photons if the dust opacity in the radiative precursor allows it.Conclusions. A rich molecular emission is produced by interstellar shocks regardless of the input mechanical energy. Atomic and molecular lines reprocess the quasi totality of the kinetic energy, allowing for the connection of observable emission to the driving source for that emission.
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A. Lehmann, B. Godard, G. Pineau Des Forêts, E. Falgarone. Self-generated ultraviolet radiation in molecular shock waves: I. Effects of Lyman α, Lyman β, and two-photon continuum. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2020, 643, pp.A101. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/202038644⟩. ⟨hal-02999681⟩

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