Astrophys. J., 653, 1226-1240 (2006/December-3)
The electron temperature gradient in the galactic disk.
QUIREZA C., ROOD R.T., BANIA T.M., BALSER D.S. and MACIEL W.J.
Abstract (from CDS):
We derive the electron temperature gradient in the Galactic disk, using a sample of H II regions that spans Galactocentric distances of 0-17 kpc. The electron temperature was calculated using high-precision radio recombination line and continuum observations for more than 100 H II regions. Nebular Galactocentric distances were calculated in a consistent manner, using the radial velocities measured by our radio recombination line survey. The large number of nebulae widely distributed over the Galactic disk, together with the uniformity of our data, provide a secure estimate of the present electron temperature gradient in the Milky Way. Because metals are the main coolants in the photoionized gas, the electron temperature along the Galactic disk should be directly related to the distribution of heavy elements in the Milky Way. Our best estimate of the electron temperature gradient is derived from a sample of 76 sources for which we have the highest quality data. The present gradient in electron temperature has a minimum at the Galactic center and rises at a rate of 287±46 K/kpc. There are no significant variations in the value of the gradient as a function of Galactocentric radius or azimuth. The scatter we find in the H II region electron temperatures at a given Galactocentric radius is not due to observational error, but rather to intrinsic fluctuations in these temperatures, which are almost certainly due to fluctuations in the nebular heavy-element abundances. Comparing the H II region gradient with the much steeper gradient found for planetary nebulae suggests that the electron temperature gradient evolves with time, becoming flatter as a consequence of the chemical evolution of the Milky Way's disk.
ISM: H II Regions - ISM: Abundances - ISM: Clouds - ISM: Evolution - ISM: Lines and Bands - ISM: Structure - Nuclear Reactions, Nucleosynthesis, Abundances - Radio Lines: ISM
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<Available at CDS (J/ApJ/653/1226): table1.dat>
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