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University of Heidelberg, Center for Astronomy

Giant Star-Forming Regions


Dimitrios A. Gouliermis & Ralf S. Klessen

Lecture #7
Physical Processes in
Ionized Hydrogen Regions
Part II

Gouliermis & Klessen

Giant Star-Forming Regions

(tentative) Schedule of the Course


Lect. 1
Lect. 2
Lect. 3
Lect. 4
Lect. 5
Lect. 6
Lect. 7
Lect. 8
Lect. 9
Lect. 10
Lect. 11

Lect. 12
Lect. 13

19-Oct-2012 Course Overview


Motivation for the Course/Schedule; Overview of Physical Processes in HII Regions; Classification of HII regions
26-Oct-2012 Introduction to the Physics of the ISM I
Phases of the ISM; Transitions; Introduction to cooling mechanisms
2-Nov-2012 Introduction to the Physics of the ISM II
Atomic Transitions; Gas Cooling; Collisional Excitation
9-Nov-2012 Introduction to the Physics of the ISM III
Gas Heating; Photo-ionization; Photo-electric heating; PAHs
16-Nov-2012 Interstellar Dust
Composition, Spectral Features, Grain Size Distributions, Extinction
23-Nov-2012 Physical Processes in HII Regions I
Radiative Processes; Photo-ionization & Recombination of hydrogen; Photoionization Equilibrium
30-Nov-2012 Physical Processes in HII Regions II
Heating and Cooling of HII Regions; Strmgren Theory; Forbidden lines and Line Diagnostics
7-Dec-2012 Photodissociation regions (PDR)
Ionization & Energy Balance; Dissociation of Molecular Hydrogen; Structure; Observations
14-Dec-2012 Stellar Feedback Processes
Dynamics of the ISM; Ionization fronts; Expansion of HII regions; Stellar Winds and Supernovas
11-Jan-2012 Stellar Content of HII Regions I
Massive Stellar Evolution; Mass-Loss; Rotation; Binary interaction; Spectral features of OB stars; Runaway stars - Stellar
Cluster dynamics

18-Jan-2012 Stellar Content of HII Regions II


Pre--Main-Sequence (PMS) Stars; Young Stellar Systems; Stellar Initial Mass Function; Age determination &
History
25-Jan-2012 Star Formation (SF)
Isothermal shperes and Jeans mass; Molecular Cores collapse; Protostars
1-Feb-2012 Star Formation
PMS Stellar Evolution/Contraction; Characteristics of T Tauri stars; Herbig Ae/Be Stars; Multiple SF

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Physical Processes in HII Regions


Part II

In this Lecture
Strmgren Theory (for Hydrogen)
Heating & Cooling of HII Regions
The Role of Helium
Forbidden Lines (CELs)
Line Diagnostics for HII Regions
Literature
Osterbrock & Ferland, 2006, Ch. 2
Spitzer, 1978, Sec. 6.1
Tielens, 2005, Ch. 7

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The Strmgren Theory


Real HII regions are inhomogeneous. Their properties are
determined by the local ionization parameter.
Modeling HII regions requires a good calculation of the
stellar FUV radiation field (usually through Monte Carlo).
A simple (avoiding the above complications) but very
useful theory to describe an HII region as a uniform
spherical region, is this by Bengt Strmgren (1939).
It examines the effects of the electromagnetic radiation of
a single star (or a tight cluster of similar stars) of a given
surface temperature and luminosity on the surrounding
interstellar medium of a given density.
Classical Article: Strmgren, Bengt The Physical State of Interstellar Hydrogen,
The Astrophysical Journal, 89, 526-547 (1939)
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The Strmgren Theory


The interstellar medium is taken to be homogeneous and
consisting entirely of hydrogen.
Strmgren theory describes the relationship between the
luminosity and temperature of the exciting star, i.e., the
intensity of the ionizing sources, on the one hand, and the
density of the surrounding hydrogen gas on the other.
The size of the idealized ionized region is calculated as
the Strmgren radius.
Strmgrens model also shows that there is a very sharp
cut-off of the degree of ionization at the edge of the
Strmgren sphere, because the transition region between
the highly ionized and the surrounding neutral gas is very
narrow, compared to the overall size of the sphere.
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The Strmgren Theory

Basic Realationships
The hotter and more luminous the exciting star, the larger
the Strmgren sphere.
The denser the surrounding hydrogen gas, the smaller the
Strmgren sphere.
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The Strmgren Sphere


The Strmgren sphere radius RS is determined by balancing the
total rates of ionization and recombination inside it.
The total ionization rate as a function of distance from the star in
a spherical volume around it is:

H n H J(r) =

3SH
4 r 3

In the stationary situation, which is typical for an HII region, the


number of ionizations equals the number of recombinations, and
therefore:

H n H J(r) = n e2 2 (T)

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The Strmgren Sphere


From equating the ionization and recombinations rates we get:

SH =

4 3 2
4 3
RS n e 2 =
RS (nx) 2 2
3
3

Where SH (in S491049 photons s1) is the rate at which the central
star produces photons that ionize H, and x = ne/n the ionization
degree.
Since the gas is considered fully ionized (x ~ 1):
1

$ 3 SH ' 3
RS = &
)
2
% 4 n 2 (
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Strmgren Spheres Characteristics


1

$ 3 SH ' 3
$ S49 ' 3
RS = &

61.7
& 2 ) pc
)
2
%n (
% 4 n 2 (
Numerical value for T = 7,000 K. In reality n is determined by the
dynamics of the HII region, i.e., its expansion into the nonuniform surrounding ISM.

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Strmgren Spheres Characteristics


Ionization Parameter US and radial column density nRS.
We consider a location just inside RS where x = 1, we ignore
attenuation of the spectrum, and apply ionization equilibrium:

n
S
(4 /3)RS3 n 2 2 2
US =
=
=
= nRS
n 4 RS2cn
4 RS2cn
3c
$ 3 S '1/ 3 $ 3 nS '1/ 3 $ 3 '1/ 3
1/ 3
nRS = n&
=
=
nS
(
)
)
&
)
&
)
2
% 4 n 2 (
% 4 2 (
% 4 2 (
1/ 3

and thus,

2 $ 3 '
US = &
)
3c % 4 2 (

(nS )1/ 3

Both US and nRS are proportional to (nS)1/3.


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Strmgren Spheres Characteristics


Ionization Parameter US and radial column density nRS.
By substituting with typical numerical values, 2 = 3.651013
cm3 s1, n = n2100 cm3 and S = S491049 photons s1 we get:
1/ 3

US 3.3 10 3 ( n 2 S49 )

RS = 8.6 10 20 (n 2 S49 )1/3 cm2

The radial column density nRS is related to the average


column density:
1/ 3
(4 /3)nRS3 4
21
=
nR

1.15

10
n
S
cm2
N=
(
S
2 49 )
2
3
RS

As n increases for fixed S, the column increases as n1/3.


Therefore, small dense HII regions can have large columns.
This is the case of ultra-compact HII (UCHII) regions.

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Strmgren Spheres Characteristics


The H+/H ratio. From results so far for the ionization parameter
we have (Lecture 6):

nH+
nH0

U
UH

UH =

2 x e
1c(I4 /I1 )

US =

2
nRS
3c

Substituting we have:

nH+
nH0

1
1
= 1nRS (I4 /I1 ) = 1 N(I4 /I1 )
3
4

which expresses the H+/H ratio in terms of the optical depth at the
Lyman edge. Recalling (Lect. 6) that 1 = 6.331018 cm2, we get:

1 = 1 N = (6.33 10 18 )(1.15 10 21 )(S49 n 2 )1/ 3 = 7280(S49 n 2 )1/ 3

The H+/H is about 1/8 of this value, and thus ~900(S49n2)1/3.


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Strmgren Spheres Characteristics


Thickness of H+/H transition region RS.
This is the region in which x(H) goes from 0 to 1. Its thickness is
roughly the distance for an ionizing photon to be absorbed:

1 = RS n H 0 1 = 1
If we neglect hardening of the spectrum and define the transition
where n(H) = 0.5n, we have:

1
1
2 U H I4
RS
=
=
=
3.5 10 4 (S49 n 2 ) 1/ 3
1
3
RS
n H 0 1RS
1 N 3 US I1
2
8
RS, as well as, H+/H ratio, US, and nRS, all depend on the
Strmgren parameter (Sn)1/3.

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Real Strmgren Spheres

The Ring Nebula (M 57)

The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293)

The Spirograph nebula (IC 418)

All images: Hubble Space Telescope (AURA/ STScI/ NASA/ ESA)

Real HII Regions are rarely circular


Nonetheless, Strmgrens theory Illustrates the basic roles of photoionization and recombination.
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Ionization Balance Summary


The excess energy over the ionization potential is
carried away by the photo-electron as kinetic energy.
Recombination is slow (~100 yr for 103 cm3),
while e-e collisions occur on ~30 sec timescales.
Electrons collisions exchange energy leading to
Maxwell velocity distribution (Thermal emission).
Thermal electrons excite low-lying levels of trace
species.
Downward radiative transitions cool the nebula.
This energy balance sets the temperature of the gas.
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Thermal Balance
Temperature of Photoionized Gas. The one important heating
mechanism (photo-electric heating) involves the dissipation of the
excess energy of the photoelectrons (generated by the absorption of
stellar UV photons) in Coulomb collisions with ambient electrons:

E e = h h1 ~ kT
The mean energy of the photoelectrons is

h( )
1

E2 =

4 J
d
h

4 J
d
h

where J is the mean intensity of the radiation field.


A detailed treatment of heating and cooling in HII regions is given in
Spitzer Sec. 6.1

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Photoelectric Heating
Spitzer expresses the mean photoelectron energy in terms of the stellar
effective temperature:

= E 2 /kT*
With nH the photoionization rate per unit volume, the volumetric heating
rate is

= n HkT*

0 is the value near the star, is averaged over an HII region. The

first decreases and the second increases with T*, as does also their
ratio /0.
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Recombination Cooling
Radiation is the main cooling mechanism of the ISM.
In HII regions, radiation from recombination provides a
minimum amount of cooling: each recombination drains
thermal energy me2 from the gas. The total cooling rate
per ion is

1 3
m j
2 j =k

The recombination cross section j varies as 2 (Lecture #6).


Therefore the rate of cooling by recombination is determined
by the thermalaverage of 3 2 = , i.e., T. (This is
confirmed by the exact calculations of Spitzer.)
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Recombination Cooling Rate


The volumetric cooling, neglecting recombinations to the
ground state (on-the-spot rate approximation) is

rec = 2 n e n(H + )kT

2
2

2: Recombination function (Spitzer Table 5-2, p. 107)


2: Energy gain function (Spitzer Eq. 6-8, p. 135 & Table 6.2).

Roughly 3/2kT of electron thermal energy is lost in


each recombination in an HII region.
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Preliminary Thermal Balance for Pure H


Net energy gain associated to recombinations (Spitzer Eq. 6-9)

ep =

2.07 10 11 n e n p

{ E (h /kT) kT (h /kT)}
2 1

T1/2

erg
cm3 s

(energy gain resulting from captures of electrons by protons)

In HII regions, where the on-the-spot approximation applies, all


recaptures to the ground level can be ignored, and 1 and 1 can be
replaced by 2 and 2.

For recombination cooling to balance with photoelectric


heating requires! = 0 T = > 1
ep

T*

So, the predicted temperature is much greater than what is


observed: There must be other coolants at work!!
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The Role of He in HII Regions


He has high IP: He 24.6 eV (504); He+ 54.4 eV (228)
(see also Lecture #4)
Very hot stars are needed to ionize He+ (T* > 50,000 K).
O-type stars are not enough, so their HII regions have
no He++. Planetary nebula stars or AGN.
The radiation that ionizes He also ionizes H.
He recombination radiation photoionizes H.
The He threshold photoionization cross section is larger
than that for H, largely compensating for its smaller
abundance.
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Ionization of He by O- & B-type stars


B0 star, Teff 30,000K
Spectrum peaks at ~13.6 eV
Many photons in 13.6 - 24.6 eV range
Few photons with hv > 24.6 eV

Two Strmgren spheres


Small central He+ zone surrounded by large H+ region

O6 star, Teff 40,000 K


Spectrum peaks beyond 24.6 eV
Lots of photons with hv > 24.6 eV

Single Strmgren sphere


H+ and He+ zones coincide
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Ionization Structure in Model HII Regions


Osterbrock & Ferland, Astrophysics of Gaseous Nebulae
and Active Galactic Nuclei, University Science Books, 2006

For an O6 star, the abundant supply of He-ionizing photons keeps both H and He
ionized, whereas the smaller number generated by a B star are absorbed close
to the star.
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Nebular Lines: Historical Overview


Helium
Discovered by Pierre Janssen in1868 in Solar emission
lines (at 5816 ), and also identified on Earth in 1895.

Nebulium
Discovered by William Huggins in 1864 in emission
nebulae at 500.7, 495.9, and 372 nm.
Identified in 1927 by Ira Sprague Bowen as [OIII] and
[OII].
Significance: highlighted the possibility of long-lived
quantum states and focused attention on understanding
selection rules in quantum mechanics.
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Cooling of HII Regions


Photoelectric heating balanced by recombination
cooling in a pure hydrogen model predicted too high
temperatures for HII regions.
This suggests that another cooling agent is in action.
Collisional excitation of elements heavier than H is a
very efficient cooling process (Lecture #3).
Common ions of O, N, C, Ne, Ar all have levels that are
~1eV above ground state, i.e., easily collisionally excited.
Forbidden transitions due to collisional cooling from
metal ions are important around T = 104K.

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Cooling of HII Regions

Long slit optical spectrum of the Orion Bar.

The optical line emission of HII regions is dominated by the


recombination lines of H & He and by the forbidden lines of heavy
elements (even more so for SNRs and AGN), important for cooling.
Thus, collisional excitation of heavy elements must be included in
photoionization calculations.
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Optical Spectrum of an HII region

Planetary Nebula NGC 3242


(ESO 1.5-m in Chile)
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Blue: recombination lines of H and He


Red: forbidden lines of metals

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Atomic hydrogen recombination lines

n : Lower level
%1
1( l
1
= R ' 2 2 * n u : Upper level

& nl nu )

R : Rydberg's constant (1.097 10 7 m1 )

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Collisional De-excitation
The de-excitation rate coefficient, ul, is related to the excitation rate
coefficient, lu, by detailed balance:

lu =

gu E ul / kT
e
ul
gl

A rate coefficient is a thermal average of a cross section, e.g.,


2

3/2

4 & )
3 2kT
ul = ul ( ) =
d
+ ul ( ) e
(

' 2kT * 0

with the reduced mass of the system and ul() the collisional deexcitation cross section at the relative velocity, , of the collision
partners. The cross section and thus the rate coefficient will depend on
the interaction potential of the collision partners. For, e.g., neutral
partners ul T1/2, while for electronion collisions ul T1/2.!
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Critical Density for collisions


The two-level model (Lecture #3, Slide 16) illustrates how the cooling
depends on the density of the collision partner relative to the critical
density:

n crit =

( ul )Aul
ul

(ul): escape probability of a photon formed at optical depth . !


Aul: Einstein coefficient for spontaneous emission.
ul: Collisional (de-excitation) rate coefficient.

electrons are the excitation sources, and ul is given in


For HII regions,
standard form (Osterbrock & Ferland Eq. 3.20):
8.629 10 6 ul
ul =
T1/ 2
gu
Where ul is the collision strength and gu the statistical weight of level u.
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Forbidden Transitions through collisions


Forbidden lines or collisionally excited lines (CELs) arise when an
electron is excited by a collision into a metastable state.
In high densities (~108 cm3) the electron would almost immediately
be knocked out of a metastable state by collision and not be given time
to emit a photon. In low densities, the time between collisions is long
enough to allow to the ion to radiate spontaneously.
Typical values of ul are 107 cm3 s1. Osterbrock & Ferland provide
tables of atomic properties of heavy elements. Table 3-15 gives a
sampling of critical densities at 10,000K. For the 2p2 ions OIII & NII:
ncrit (NII: 1D3P; 6500 ) = 6.6 104 cm3
ncrit (OIII: 1D3P; 5000 ) = 6.8 105 cm3
These transitions will be sub-thermally excited in many HII regions.
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[OIII]
OIII (1s22s22p2) has two 2p electrons (isoelectronic with NII and CI).
The electron spins couple to a total spin S = 0,1. The two orbital angular
momenta couple to total L = 0,1,2. Of the 6 LS-coupling states, satisfy the
Pauli Exclusion Principle: 1S0 1D2 3PJ (J =0 ,1,2), with different spatial wave
functions and Coulomb energies.

Schematic illustration for one level of O III showing the energy level splitting
for a configuration-averaged model, an L-S term split model, and a finestructure splitting model. From S. Bashkin & J. O. Stoner 1975: Atomic
energy levels and Grotrian Diagrams Vols.1 & 2

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Grotrian Diagram for the OIII triplet

From S. Bashkin & J. O. Stoner 1975: Atomic energy levels and Grotrian Diagrams Vols. 1 & 2.
(Labels on the solid lines refer to the transition wavelengths.)
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Forbidden Lines Cooling


Transition rates for producing CELs are very low
(~103 100 s1)
H recombination rates are much higher (~109 s1)
Photons are very likely to escape the nebula before
being absorbed and so absorption can be ignored.
They can remove a lot of heat from the nebula, resolving
the high temperature issue if recombination only is
considered.
The higher the metallicity (i.e. heavy-element content) of a
nebula, the faster it cools to thermal equilibrium, and the
stronger the forbidden lines are.
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Typical Forbidden Lines


(O2+)

(N+)

Common forbidden lines:


Optical: [OIII] 4959,5007 , [NII] 6548,6584 , [SII] 6717,6731
Infrared: [OIII] 52,88 m, [NIII] 57 m
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Line Ratios as Thermometers


Relative Intensities of CELs
provide a measure of electron
temperatures in HII regions.
Widely used are the intensity
ratio of the [OIII] lines 4363/
5007, or 4363/4959, or
(4959+5007)/4363.
Explanation: More energetic (hotter) free
photoelectrons are needed to push electrons
in the upper state than to populate the lower
energy levels. So the line strength ratio
immediately measures how hot the electron
plasma in a nebula is (see previous slide).
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[OIII] (4959+5007)/4363 intensity


ratio as a function of temperature.
From Osterbrock (1989).

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Line Ratios as density measures


Relative Intensities of CELs
provide also a measure of
electron densities in HII
regions.
The most commonly used
density measure is the
intensity ratio of the [SII] lines
6717/6731 or the [OII] lines
3726/3729.
Variation of [OII] (solid line) and [SII]
(dashed line) intensity ratios as a function
of ne at Te = 10000 K.
From Osterbrock (1989).

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Explanation: The de-excitation


rate is only a function of electron
density.

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Line Ratios as abundance measures


The strengths of certain forbidden lines of heavy ions in HII
regions and PNe, combined with knowledge of the electron
temperature and density in the nebula, allow us to
determine the abundance of these ions (and collectively of
their respective element) relative to Hydrogen. For example:

n e I( 4959)
N(O 2+ )
~
f (Te ) I(H)
N(H + )
Where ne is the electron density; f(Te) is the fraction of O2+ ions able to
emit at 4959 (with a strong dependence on nebular) and I(4959)/I(H)
is the flux of the [OII] 4959 line relative to H.

We measure
the strength of the forbidden lines from all the
ionic stages of an element (e.g. O, O+, O2+) and add up all the
abundances to find the total abundance relative to H.
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Summary
Photoionization (photoelectric effect) heats a
gaseous nebula.
The simple Stroemgren theory describes the
characteristics of a pure hydrogen nebula.
Helium plays important role in real emission
nebulae.
Recombination & Collisional excitation cool HII
regions.
These cooling processes produce emission lines.
These lines are used as diagnostics for
characterizing HII regions.
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