A semi-analytical line transfer model to interpret the spectra of galaxy outflows

C. Scarlata, N. Panagia

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    35 Scopus citations


    We present a semi-analytical line transfer model, (SALT), to study the absorption and re-emission line profiles from expanding galactic envelopes. The envelopes are described as a superposition of shells with density and velocity varying with the distance from the center. We adopt the Sobolev approximation to describe the interaction between the photons escaping from each shell and the remainder of the envelope. We include the effect of multiple scatterings within each shell, properly accounting for the atomic structure of the scattering ions. We also account for the effect of a finite circular aperture on actual observations. For equal geometries and density distributions, our models reproduce the main features of the profiles generated with more complicated transfer codes. Also, our SALT line profiles nicely reproduce the typical asymmetric resonant absorption line profiles observed in starforming/starburst galaxies whereas these absorption profiles cannot be reproduced with thin shells moving at a fixed outflow velocity. We show that scattered resonant emission fills in the resonant absorption profiles, with a strength that is different for each transition. Observationally, the effect of resonant filling depends on both the outflow geometry and the size of the outflow relative to the spectroscopic aperture. Neglecting these effects will lead to incorrect values of gas covering fraction and column density. When a fluorescent channel is available, the resonant profiles alone cannot be used to infer the presence of scattered re-emission. Conversely, the presence of emission lines of fluorescent transitions reveals that emission filling cannot be neglected.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number43
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


    • ISM: jets and outflows
    • galaxies: ISM
    • galaxies: starburst

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