The Temperature and Opacity of Atomic Hydrogen in Spiral Galaxies

Robert Braun
1997 Astrophysical Journal  
We analyze the resolved neutral hydrogen emission properties of a sample of eleven of the nearest spiral galaxies. Between 60 and 90% of the total HI line flux within the optical disk is due to a high brightness network (HBN) of emission features which are marginally resolved in their narrow dimension at about 150 pc and have a face-on covering factor of about 15%. Averaged line profiles of this component are systematically non-Gaussian with a narrow core (less than about 6 km/s FWHM)
more » ... m/s FWHM) superposed on broad Lorentzian wings (30 km/s FWHM). An upper limit to the gas temperature of 300 K follows directly from the narrow line profiles, while simple modeling suggests kinetic temperatures equal to the peak emission brightness temperature (80-200 K) in all cases but the outer disks of low mass galaxies, where the HBN becomes optically thin to the 21 cm line. Positive radial gradients in the derived kinetic temperature are found in all spiral galaxies. The distributions of brightness temperature with radius in our sample form a nested system with galaxies of earlier morphological type systematically displaced to lower temperature at all radii. The fractional line flux due to the HBN plummets abruptly near the edge of the optical disk where a diffuse outer gas disk takes over. We identify the HBN with the Cool Neutral Medium.
doi:10.1086/304346 fatcat:gxyt6op6rregpbcf5pqy4clnze