The Effects of Radiative Transfer on the Probability Distribution Functions of Molecular Magnetohydrodynamic Turbulence

Burkhart, Blakesley
(
Astronomy Department, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 475 N. Charter St., WI 53711, USA
);
Ossenkopf, V.
(
Physikalisches Institut der Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Strasse 77, D-50937 Köln, Germany
);
Lazarian, A.
(
Astronomy Department, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 475 N. Charter St., WI 53711, USA
);
Stutzki, J.
(
Physikalisches Institut der Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Strasse 77, D-50937 Köln, Germany
)
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The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 771, Issue 2, article id. 122, 13 pp. (2013).

Published in Jul 2013

We study the effects of radiative transfer on the probability distribution functions (PDFs) of simulations of magnetohydrodynamic turbulence in the widely studied ^{13}CO 2-1 transition. We find that the integrated intensity maps generally follow a log-normal distribution, with the cases that have τ ≈ 1 best matching the PDF of the column density. We fit a two-dimensional variance-sonic Mach number relationship to our logarithmic PDFs of the form \sigma _{\ln (\Sigma /\Sigma _0)}^2=A\times \ln (1+b^2{\cal M}_s^2) and find that, for parameter b = 1/3, parameter A depends on the radiative transfer environment. We also explore the variance, skewness, and kurtosis of the linear PDFs finding that higher moments reflect both higher sonic Mach number and lower optical depth. Finally, we apply the Tsallis incremental PDF function and find that the fit parameters depend on both Mach numbers, but also are sensitive to the radiative transfer parameter space, with the τ ≈ 1 case best fitting the incremental PDF of the true column density. We conclude that, for PDFs of low optical depth cases, part of the gas is always subthermally excited so that the spread of the line intensities exceeds the spread of the underlying column densities and hence the PDFs do not reflect the true column density. Similarly, PDFs of optically thick cases are dominated by the velocity dispersion and therefore do not represent the true column density PDF. Thus, in the case of molecules like carbon monoxide, the dynamic range of intensities, structures observed, and, consequently, the observable PDFs are less determined by turbulence and more often determined by radiative transfer effects.
Keywords:
Astronomy:
ISM: structure; magnetohydrodynamics: MHD; radiative transfer; turbulence

arXiv:
Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies