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New determinations of the critical velocities of C-type shock waves in dense molecular clouds: application to the outflow source in Orion

Le Bourlot, J.; Pineau des Forêts, G.; Flower, D.R.; Cabrit, S.


J. Le Bourlot

G. Pineau des Forêts

D.R. Flower

S. Cabrit


We report calculations of the intensities of rovibrational transitions of H2 emitted from C-type shock waves propagating in molecular gas. Attention was paid to the thermal balance of the gas and to the rates of collisional dissociation and ionization of H2. We found that the maximum shock speeds which can be attained, prior to the collisional dissociation of H2 (which results in a sonic point in the flow and hence a J-type shock wave), can be much higher than had previously been believed. Thus, adopting the `standard' scaling of the transverse magnetic induction with the gas density, B(muG)=[nH(cm-3)]1/2, we established that the maximum shock speed increased from 20-30kms-1 at high pre-shock densities (nH>=106cm-3) to 70-80kms-1 at low densities (nH<=104cm-3). The critical shock speed, vcrit, also increases significantly with the transverse magnetic induction, B, at a given pre-shock gas density, nH. By way of an application of these results, we demonstrate that a two-component model, comprising shock waves with velocities vs=60 and 40kms-1, reproduces the column densities of H2 observed by ISO-SWS up to the highest level (possibly) detected, v=0, J=27, which lies 42515K above the ground state. We found no necessity to invoke mechanisms other than thermal collisional excitation in the gas phase; but the v=1 vibrational band remains less completely thermalized than is indicated by the observations. Fine structure transitions of atoms and ions were also considered. The intensity of the [SiI] 68.5mum transition, observed by Gry et al. using ISO-LWS, is satisfactorily reproduced by the same model and may also originate in OMC-1, rather than Orion-KL as originally believed. The transitions of [FeII] and [SI] observed by Rosenthal et al. may also arise in the shock-heated gas.


Le Bourlot, J., Pineau des Forêts, G., Flower, D., & Cabrit, S. (2002). New determinations of the critical velocities of C-type shock waves in dense molecular clouds: application to the outflow source in Orion. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 332(4), 985-993.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2002-06
Deposit Date Nov 22, 2006
Journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Electronic ISSN 1365-2966
Publisher Royal Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 332
Issue 4
Pages 985-993
Keywords Molecular processes, Shock waves, ISM, Orion OMC-1, Molecules.