Thursday, June 6, 2013

1306.0953 (Elisabeth A. C. Mills et al.)

Detection of Widespread Hot Ammonia in the Galactic Center    [PDF]

Elisabeth A. C. Mills, Mark R. Morris
We present the detection of metastable inversion lines of ammonia from energy levels high above the ground state. We detect these lines in both emission and absorption toward fifteen of seventeen positions in the central 300 parsecs of the Galaxy. In total, we observe seven metastable transitions of ammonia: (8,8), (9,9), (10,10), (11,11), (12,12), (13,13) and (15,15), with energies (in Kelvins) ranging from 680 to 2200 K. We also map emission from ammonia (8,8) and (9,9) in two clouds in the Sgr A complex (M-0.02-0.07 and M-0.13-0.08), and we find that the line emission is concentrated toward the the dense centers of these molecular clouds. The rotational temperatures derived from the metastable lines toward M-0.02-0.07 and M-0.13-0.08 and an additional cloud (M0.25+0.01) range from 350 to 450 K. Similarly highly-excited lines of ammonia have previously been observed toward Sgr B2, where gas with kinetic temperatures of ~600 K has been inferred. Our observations show that the existence of a hot molecular gas component is not unique to Sgr B2, but rather appears common to many Galactic center molecular clouds. In M-0.02-0.07, we find that the hot ammonia, contributes ~10% of the cloud's total ammonia column density, and further, that the hot ammonia in this cloud arises in gas which is extended or uniformly distributed on ~10 arcsecond scales. We discuss the implications of these constraints upon the nature of this hot gas component. In addition to the detection of hot metastable ammonia line emission, we also detect for the first time emission from nonmetastable inversion transitions of ammonia in both M-0.02-0.07 and M-0.13-0.08.
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