Role of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons on the Cosmic-Ray Ionization Rate in the Galaxy

Gargi Shaw, G. J. Ferland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The cosmic-ray (CR) ionization rate (ζ, s-1) plays an important role in the interstellar medium. It controls ion-molecular chemistry and provides a source of heating. Here we perform a grid of calculations using the spectral synthesis code CLOUDY along nine sightlines toward, HD 169454, HD 110432, HD 204827, λ Cep, X Per, HD 73882, HD 154368, Cyg OB2 5, and Cyg OB2 12. The value of ζ is determined by matching the observed column densities of H3+ and H2. The presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) affects the free electron density, which changes the H3+ density and the derived ionization rate. PAHs are ubiquitous in the Galaxy, but there are also regions where PAHs do not exist. Hence, we consider clouds within a range of PAH abundances and show their effects on the H3+abundance. We predict an average CR ionization rate for H2 (ζ(H2)) = (7.88 2.89) 10-16 s-1 for models with average Galactic PAH abundances, (PAH/H = 10-6.52), except Cyg OB2 5 and Cyg OB2 12. The value of ζ is nearly 1 dex smaller for sightlines toward Cyg OB2 12. We estimate the average value of ζ(H2) = (95.69 46.56) 10-16 s-1 for models without PAHs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume908
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 20 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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