Molecular tracers of turbulent shocks in giant molecular clouds

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Journal titleThe Astrophysical Journal
Article number25
AbstractGiant molecular clouds contain supersonic turbulence and simulations of magnetohydrodynamic turbulence show that these supersonic motions decay in roughly a crossing time, which is less than the estimated lifetimes of molecular clouds. Such a situation requires a significant release of energy. We run models of C-type shocks propagating into gas with densities around 10 3cm -3 at velocities of a fewkms -1, appropriate for the ambient conditions inside of a molecular cloud, to determine which species and transitions dominate the cooling and radiative energy release associated with shock cooling of turbulent molecular clouds. We find that these shocks dissipate their energy primarily through CO rotational transitions and by compressing pre-existing magnetic fields. We present model spectra for these shocks, and by combining these models with estimates for the rate of turbulent energy dissipation, we show that shock emission should dominate over emission from unshocked gas for mid to high rotational transitions (J > 5) of CO. We also find that the turbulent energy dissipation rate is roughly equivalent to the cosmic-ray heating rate and that the ambipolar diffusion heating rate may be significant, especially in shocked gas.
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AffiliationNational Research Council Canada (NRC-CNRC); NRC Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics
Peer reviewedYes
NPARC number21270248
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Record identifier4a44fc4d-57eb-4dbe-b2a5-e26c888cb033
Record created2014-01-16
Record modified2016-05-09
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