Dust temperature tracing the ISRF intensity in the Galaxy

Astronomy and Astrophysics (Impact Factor: 4.38). 07/2010; 518(4). DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201014540


New observations with ensuremath Herschelensuremath<?iensuremath> allow accurate measurement of the equilibrium temperature of large dust grains heated by the interstellar radiation field (ISRF), which is critical in deriving dust column density and masses. We present temperature maps derived from the ensuremath Herschelensuremath<?iensuremath> SPIRE and PACS data in two fields along the Galactic plane, obtained as part of the Hi-GAL survey during the ensuremath Herschelensuremath<?iensuremath> science demonstration phase (SDP). We analyze the distribution of the dust temperature spatially, as well as along the two lines-of-sight (LOS) through the Galaxy. The zero-level offsets in the ensuremath Herschelensuremath<?iensuremath> maps were established by comparison with the IRAS and ensuremath Planckensuremath<?iensuremath> data at comparable wavelengths. We derive maps of the dust temperature and optical depth by adjusting a detailed model for dust emission at each pixel. The dust temperature maps show variations in the ISRF intensity and reveal the intricate mixture of the warm dust heated by massive stars and the cold filamentary structures of embedded molecular clouds. The dust optical depth at 250 ensuremath Î?ensuremath<?iensuremath>m is well correlated with the gas column density, but with a significantly higher dust emissivity than in the solar neighborhood. We correlate the optical depth with 3-D cubes of the dust extinction to investigate variations in the ISRF strength and dust abundance along the line of sight through the spiral structure of the Galaxy. We show that the warmest dust along the LOS is located in the spiral arms of the Galaxy, and we quantify their respective IR contribution.

Download full-text


Available from: Francesco Piacentini,
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Infrared dark clouds (IRDCs) are cold and dense reservoirs of gas potentially available to form stars. Many of these clouds are likely to be pristine structures representing the initial conditions for star formation. The study presented here aims to construct and analyze accurate column density and dust temperature maps of IRDCs by using the first Herschel data from the Hi-GAL galactic plane survey. These fundamental quantities, are essential for understanding processes such as fragmentation in the early stages of the formation of stars in molecular clouds. We have developed a simple pixel-by-pixel SED fitting method, which accounts for the background emission. By fitting a grey-body function at each position, we recover the spatial variations in both the dust column density and temperature within the IRDCs. This method is applied to a sample of 22 IRDCs exhibiting a range of angular sizes and peak column densities. Our analysis shows that the dust temperature decreases significantly within IRDCs, from background temperatures of 20-30 K to minimum temperatures of 8-15 K within the clouds, showing that dense molecular clouds are not isothermal. Temperature gradients have most likely an important impact on the fragmentation of IRDCs. Local temperature minima are strongly correlated with column density peaks, which in a few cases reach NH2 = 1 x 10^{23} cm^{-2}, identifying these clouds as candidate massive prestellar cores. Applying this technique to the full Hi-GAL data set will provide important constraints on the fragmentation and thermal properties of IRDCs, and help identify hundreds of massive prestellar core candidates. Comment: Accepted for publication in A&A Herschel special issue
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 05/2010; 518(3). DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201014652 · 4.38 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We present the first results from the science demonstration phase for the Hi-GAL survey, the Herschel key-project that will map the inner Galactic Plane of the Milky Way in 5 bands. We outline our data reduction strategy and present some science highlights on the two observed 2{\deg} x 2{\deg} tiles approximately centered at l=30{\deg} and l=59{\deg}. The two regions are extremely rich in intense and highly structured extended emission which shows a widespread organization in filaments. Source SEDs can be built for hundreds of objects in the two fields, and physical parameters can be extracted, for a good fraction of them where the distance could be estimated. The compact sources (which we will call 'cores' in the following) are found for the most part to be associated with the filaments, and the relationship to the local beam-averaged column density of the filament itself shows that a core seems to appear when a threshold around A_V of about 1 is exceeded for the regions in the l=59{\deg} field; a A_V value between 5 and 10 is found for the l=30{\deg} field, likely due to the relatively larger distances of the sources. This outlines an exciting scenario where diffuse clouds first collapse into filaments, which later fragment to cores where the column density has reached a critical level. In spite of core L/M ratios being well in excess of a few for many sources, we find core surface densities between 0.03 and 0.5 g cm-2. Our results are in good agreement with recent MHD numerical simulations of filaments forming from large-scale converging flows. Comment: A&A, accepted
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 05/2010; 518(8). DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201014659 · 4.38 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In Herschel images of the Galactic plane and many star forming regions, a major factor limiting our ability to extract faint compact sources is cirrus confusion noise, operationally defined as the "statistical error to be expected in photometric measurements due to confusion in a background of fluctuating surface brightness". The histogram of the flux densities of extracted sources shows a distinctive faint-end cutoff below which the catalog suffers from incompleteness and the flux densities become unreliable. This empirical cutoff should be closely related to the estimated cirrus noise and we show that this is the case. We compute the cirrus noise directly, both on Herschel images from which the bright sources have been removed and on simulated images of cirrus with statistically similar fluctuations. We connect these direct estimates with those from power spectrum analysis, which has been used extensively to predict the cirrus noise and provides insight into how it depends on various statistical properties and photometric operational parameters. We report multi-wavelength power spectra of diffuse Galactic dust emission from Hi-GAL observations at 70 to 500 mu m within Galactic plane fields at l = 30 degrees and l = 59 degrees. We find that the exponent of the power spectrum is about -3. At 250 mu m, the amplitude of the power spectrum increases roughly as the square of the median brightness of the map and so the expected cirrus noise scales linearly with the median brightness. For a given region, the wavelength dependence of the amplitude can be described by the square of the spectral energy distribution ( SED) of the dust emission. Generally, the confusion noise will be a worse problem at longer wavelengths, because of the combination of lower angular resolution and the rising power spectrum of cirrus toward lower spatial frequencies, but the photometric signal to noise will also depend on the relative SED of the source compared to the cirrus.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 07/2010; 518(2):L105. DOI:10.1051/0004-6361/201014684 · 4.38 Impact Factor
Show more