Journal Article

Centimetre-wave continuum radiation from the ρ Ophiuchi molecular cloud

Simon Casassus, Clive Dickinson, Kieran Cleary, Roberta Paladini, Mireya Etxaluze, Tanya Lim, Glenn J. White, Michael Burton, Balt Indermuehle, Otmar Stahl and Patrick Roche

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 391, issue 3, pages 1075-1090
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Centimetre-wave continuum radiation from the ρ Ophiuchi molecular cloud

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The ρ Oph molecular cloud is undergoing intermediate-mass star formation. Ultraviolet radiation from its hottest young stars heats and dissociates exposed layers, but does not ionize hydrogen. Only faint radiation from the Rayleigh-Jeans tail of ∼10–100 K dust is expected at wavelengths longwards of ∼3 mm. Yet cosmic background imager (CBI) observations reveal that the ρ Oph W photodissociation region is surprisingly bright at centimetre wavelengths. We searched for interpretations consistent with the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe radio spectrum, new Infrared Space Observatory-Long Wavelength Spectrograph (LWS) parallel mode images and archival Spitzer data. Dust-related emission mechanisms at 1 cm, as proposed by Draine & Lazarian, are a possibility. But a magnetic enhancement of the grain opacity at 1 cm is inconsistent with the morphology of the dust column maps Nd and the lack of detected polarization. Spinning dust, or electric-dipole radiation from spinning very small grains (VSGs), comfortably explains the radio spectrum, although not the conspicuous absence from the CBI data of the infrared circumstellar nebulae around the B-type stars S1 and SR3. Allowing for VSG depletion can marginally reconcile spinning dust with the data. As an alternative interpretation, we consider the continuum from residual charges in ρ Oph W, where most of carbon should be photoionized by the close binary HD 147889 (B2IV, B3IV). Electron densities of ∼102cm−3, or H-nucleus densities nH > 106cm−3, are required to interpret ρ Oph W as the C ii Strömgren sphere of HD 147889. However, the observed steep and positive low-frequency spectral index would then imply optically thick emission from an hitherto unobserved ensemble of dense clumps or sheets with a filling factor of ∼10−4 and nH∼ 107cm−3.

Keywords: radiation mechanisms: general; ISM: clouds; radio continuum: general; radio continuum: ISM; submillimetre

Journal Article.  14747 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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