Sunday, August 4, 2013

1308.0258 (J. García et al.)

Time-dependent Photoionization of Gaseous Nebulae: the Pure Hydrogen Case    [PDF]

J. García, E. E. Elhoussieny, M. A. Bautista, T. R. Kallman
We study the problem of time-dependent photoionization of low density gaseous nebulae subjected to sudden changes in the intensity of ionizing radiation. To this end, we write a computer code that solves the full time-dependent energy balance, ionization balance, and radiation transfer equations in a self-consistent fashion for a simplified pure hydrogen case. It is shown that changes in the ionizing radiation yield ionization/thermal fronts that propagate through the cloud, but the propagation times and response times to such fronts vary widely and non-linearly from the illuminated face of the cloud to the ionization front (IF). Ionization/thermal fronts are often supersonic, and in slabs initially in pressure equilibrium such fronts yield large pressure imbalances that are likely to produce important dynamical effects in the cloud. Further, we studied the case of periodic variations in the ionizing flux. It is found that the physical conditions of the plasma have complex behaviors that differ from any steady-state solutions. Moreover, even the time average ionization and temperature is different from any steady-state case. This time average is characterized by over-ionization and a broader IF with respect to the steady-state solution for a mean value of the radiation flux. Around the time average of physical conditions there is large dispersion in instantaneous conditions, particularly across the IF, which increases with the period of radiation flux variations. Moreover, the variations in physical conditions are asynchronous along the slab due to the combination of non-linear propagation times for thermal/ionization fronts and equilibration times.
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