Protostars and Planets VI, Heidelberg, July 15-20, 2013

Poster 1S008

Does the differential photodissociation and chemical fractionation reaction of 13CO affect the column density estimates?

Szücs, László (Heidelberg Universität, ZAH, ITA)
Glover, Simon (Heidelberg Universität, ZAH, ITA)

Carbon monoxide (CO) and its isotopes are frequently used as a tracer of column density in studies of the dense interstellar medium. The most abundant CO isotope, 12CO, is usually optically thick in intermediate and high density regions and so provides only a lower limit for the column density. In these regions, less abundant isotopes are used, such as 13CO. To relate observations of 13CO to the 12CO column density, a constant 12CO/13CO isotopic ratio is often adopted. In this work, we examine the impact of two effects -- selective photodissociation of 13CO and chemical fractionation -- on the 12CO/13CO isotopic ratio, with the aid of numerical simulations. Our simulations follow the coupled chemical, thermal and dynamical evolution of isolated molecular clouds in several different environments. We post-process our simulation results with line radiative transfer and produce maps of the emergent 13CO emission. We compare emission maps produced assuming a constant isotopic ratio with ones produced using the results from a more self-consistent calculation, and also compare the column density maps derived from the emission maps. We find that at low and high column densities, the column density estimates that we obtain with the approximation of constant isotopic ratio agree well with those derived from the self-consistent model. At intermediate column densities, 10^12 cm^-2 < N(13CO)< 10^15 cm^-2, the approximate model under-predicts the column density by a factor of a few, but we show that we can correct for this, and hence obtain accurate column density estimates, via application of a simple correction factor.

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