The Origins of [C ii] Emission in Local Star-forming Galaxies
- Additional Document Info
- View All
The [CII] 158um fine-structure line is the brightest emission line observed
in local star-forming galaxies. As a major coolant of the gas-phase
interstellar medium, [CII] balances the heating, including that due to
far-ultraviolet photons, which heat the gas via the photoelectric effect.
However, the origin of [CII] emission remains unclear, because C+ can be found
in multiple phases of the interstellar medium. Here we measure the fractions of
[CII] emission originating in the ionized and neutral gas phases of a sample of
nearby galaxies. We use the [NII] 205um fine-structure line to trace the
ionized medium, thereby eliminating the strong density dependence that exists
in the ratio of [CII]/[NII] 122um. Using the FIR [CII] and [NII] emission
detected by the KINGFISH and Beyond the Peak Herschel programs, we show that
60-80% of [CII] emission originates from neutral gas. We find that the fraction
of [CII] originating in the neutral medium has a weak dependence on dust
temperature and the surface density of star formation, and a stronger
dependence on the gas-phase metallicity. In metal-rich environments, the
relatively cooler ionized gas makes substantially larger contributions to total
[CII] emission than at low abundance, contrary to prior expectations.
Approximate calibrations of this metallicity trend are provided.
has subject area