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Astron. Astrophys. 358, 682-688 (2000)

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Low-J CO line emission from PDRs: a natural explanation for the narrow range of observed line ratios

H. Störzer 1, M. Zielinsky 1, J. Stutzki 1 and A. Sternberg 2

1 I. Physikalisches Institut der Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Strasse 77, 50937 Köln, Germany
2 Tel Aviv University, School of Physics and Astronomy, Ramat Aviv, Israel

Received 10 August 1999 / Accepted 18 February 2000


We argue that the surprisingly narrow range of low-J 12CO, 13CO and C18O line ratios observed in massive star-formation regions is naturally explained if the CO emission is understood to arise in an ensemble of dense clumps which are embedded in a lower-density interclump medium which is pervaded by stellar radiation. We demonstrate this by presenting PDR computations which focus explicitly on the 12CO, 13CO and C18O [FORMULA], [FORMULA] and [FORMULA] rotational line emission for a wide range of cloud conditions. We consider spherical clouds which are illuminated by isotropic far-ultraviolet (FUV) radiation fields. Our models provide a self-consistent treatment of the chemical and thermal balance together with the radiative transfer of the CO line emission. We present results for clouds with power-law density gradients with average hydrogen particle densities [FORMULA] ranging from [FORMULA] to [FORMULA] and total average hydrogen column densities [FORMULA] between [FORMULA] and [FORMULA]. We consider clouds exposed to FUV fields ([FORMULA]) [FORMULA] to [FORMULA] times more intense than the mean interstellar radiation field. We find that the resulting line ratios are insensitive to the cloud conditions and reproduce the observed values of the relative CO line strengths.

Key words: radiative transfer – ISM: clouds – ISM: molecules – ISM: structure

Send offprint requests to: J. Stutzki (stutzki@ph1.uni-koeln.de)

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: June 8, 2000