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The Simple Model: Fitting analytic solutions of the equation of transfer to observations reveals infall rates for star-forming molecular clouds

The Simple Model: Fitting analytic solutions of the equation of transfer to observations reveals infall rates for star-forming molecular clouds

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A talk I gave at the CSU Stanislaus Math and Computer Science Seminar Series on November 17, 2006
A talk I gave at the CSU Stanislaus Math and Computer Science Seminar Series on November 17, 2006

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Published by: Christopher De Vries on May 07, 2010
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10/26/2011

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The Simple Model

:
Fitting analytic solutions of the equation of transfer to observations reveals infall rates for star-forming molecular clouds
Christopher H. De Vries Philip C. Myers

Mathematics and Computer Science Seminar

November 17, 2006

Structure of the Talk
I. Radiative transfer A. What is the equation of transfer? B. What can we learn from this equation? II. The asymmetric spectral line signature of an infalling molecular cloud A. How do stars form? B. What can we learn from molecular observations? III. Fitting models to data A. How do we fit models to observations? B. What are the pitfalls one has to watch out for?

Astronomical Observations
Astronomers explore the Universe by making three types of observations: 1. Robotic Probes. 2. Neutrino Detectors. 3. Electromagnetic Radiation.

Electromagnetic Radiation
This talk will focus on analysis of radiation from astronomical objects. Specifically the millimeter and sub-millimeter emission from molecular gas clouds. In order the interpret what we see, we need to understand 1. what causes the radiation, 2. what happens to the radiation as it travels, 3. and what effect our detectors have on that radiation.

Electromagnetic Radiation
This talk will focus on analysis of radiation from astronomical objects. Specifically the millimeter and sub-millimeter emission from molecular gas clouds. In order the interpret what we see, we need to understand 1. what causes the radiation, (Signal) 2. what happens to the radiation as it travels, (Transfer) 3. and what effect our detectors have on that radiation. (Noise)

Electromagnetic Radiation
This talk will focus on analysis of radiation from astronomical objects. Specifically the millimeter and sub-millimeter emission from molecular gas clouds. In order the interpret what we see, we need to understand 1. what causes the radiation, (Signal) 2. what happens to the radiation as it travels, (Transfer) 3. and what effect our detectors have on that radiation. (Noise)

Specific Intensity
In radiative transfer we measure the change in specific intensity or brightness of radiation. Specific intensity (Iν ) is defined as the amount of energy passing through a small area in a small range of directions at a small range of frequencies in a small time. dE Iν = dA dt dΩ dν The units of specific intensity (in cgs) are therefore erg cm−2 s−1 ster−1 Hz−1 .

Radiative Transfer
Radiative transfer is huge topic which I cannot cover in detail, but it is described by a very modest differential equation called The Equation of Transfer.

dIν = −αν Iν + jν ds
s Distance (cm) αν Absorption Coefficient (cm−1 ) jν Emission Coefficient (erg cm−3 s−1 ster−1 Hz−1 )

Optical Depth
In a purely absorbing medium with the equation of transfer is easy to solve, and depends only on the integral of the absorption coefficient along the radiation’s path. dInu = −αν Iν ds
s

Iν (s) = Iν (s0 ) exp −
s0

aν (s )ds

The intensity decays exponentially as it travels through an absorbing medium. We define the optical depth (τ ) as the integral of aν along the path. Using τ we can restate the equation of transfer as dIν = −Iν + Sν . dτ

Radio Astronomers and Temperature
Radio astronomers are peculiar in that we assign a temperature to everything (even when that temperature has no real thermal meaning). • Brightness Temperature (TB ) — Proportional to specific intensity. • Excitation Temperature (Tex )— Proportional to the source function. I will slow a lot of observations where “temperature” is the unit of the observation, but these will be intensities or brightness of radiation. dTB = −TB + Tex dτ

Molecular Emission and Absorption
What do we look at to observe “dark” molecular clouds? Emission from molecules within those clouds. • At narrow bandwidths (spectral lines) • At radio (millimeter and submillimeter) wavelengths • Caused by quantum mechanical processes (rotational transitions). • Specific lines caused by specific molecules.

Star Formation and Infalling Clouds
Molecular clouds are huge, stretching up to 100 parsecs in size. They are also incredibly diffuse with a density lower than the best vacuum achievable on Earth. Stars have an average density greater than water, with extremely high density in the core. They are also more than one million times smaller than a small molecular cloud core. In order to form stars clouds must undergo a phase of massive collapse.

Infalling Molecular Cloud
Hot

Observer

Cool Radially Infalling Cloud

Infalling Cloud: Doppler Shifts

Observer

Radially Infalling Cloud

The Asymmetric Infall Profile

Observer

Radially Infalling Cloud

The Asymmetric Infall Profile

Observer

1. There must be a rising excitation temperature gradient along the line of sight.
Radially Infalling Cloud

The Asymmetric Infall Profile

Observer

1. There must be a rising excitation temperature gradient along the line of sight.
Radially Infalling Cloud

2. There must be a velocity gradient along the line of sight.

The Asymmetric Infall Profile

Observer

1. There must be a rising excitation temperature gradient along the line of sight.
Radially Infalling Cloud

2. There must be a velocity gradient along the line of sight. 3. The line must be optically thick.

Traditional Modeling of Infall
1. Choose a hydrodynamic simulation which includes relevant physical processes. 2. Simulate the radiative processes and thermodynamics within the cloud. 3. Assume a chemistry model for the cloud. 4. Model the radiative emissions of the cloud. Remarkably, nearly all these models predict the excitation temperature depends linearly on optical depth!

The Simple Model
We exploit this relationship by building simple models of collapsing clouds. 1. The excitation temperature rises linearly to a peak and then falls with the same slope as a function of optical depth. 2. We assume some uniform rate of infall over the entire cloud.

The Simple Model

Τex Tpk

vc

vc

T bg τf τr τ

The Simple Model
We exploit this relationship by building simple models of collapsing clouds. 1. The excitation temperature rises linearly to a peak and then falls with the same slope as a function of optical depth. 2. We assume some uniform rate of infall over the entire cloud. The equation of transfer is integrable in this case and simulations can by calculated in second by a computer rather than hours or weeks taking the traditional approach. This allows us to consider fitting our models to real observations.

Fitting a Model to Observations
The key of fitting is to numerically minimize the difference between the model predictions and observations by changing parameters of the models. This is often referred to as χ2 minimization. Minimization is an iterative process. You must 1. choose parameters, 2. calculate a result, 3. and compare that result with observations. 4. (repeat as necessary)

Gradient Methods

Error

Parameter

Gradient Methods

Error

Parameter

Gradient Methods

Error

Parameter

Gradient Methods

Error

Parameter

Simulated Annealing
The standard solution to ending up in a local minimum is to use a process called simulated annealing. • Mirrors process of annealing or controlled cooling to create crystals. • Although you tend to follow the gradient down and reduce error, you allow a probability of going upwards and increasing error. • As time goes on the probability of taking a step upwards decreases. • If probability is reduced at the right rate, you will end up in the global minimum.

Simulated Annealing

Error

Parameter

Differential Evolution
Simulated annealing requires careful control of the probability of an upward step during the simulation. Differential evolution (Storn & Price 1997) is self-regulating with fewer free parameters. • Start with a population of solutions. • Allow the solutions to vary by the differences between them (self-scaling). • Keep good solutions and throw out the bad solutions in each generation. • Repeat until you believe convergence is reached.

Differential Evolution

Error

Parameter

Differential Evolution

Error

Parameter

Differential Evolution

Error

Parameter

Differential Evolution

Error

Parameter

Differential Evolution

Error

Parameter

A Fit to Data: L1544

The Correct Solution
So far we have: • A model that is easy to calculate • A method for fitting that model to data How do we know if our best fit model is right? Is a model correct merely because it explains our observations? Not necessarily. We must continue to scrutinize it. Does our model reproduce the features of hydrodynamically simulated clouds?

Simulated Fits

Actual Data
Since this model is easy to use and runs quickly (and I put the code online) observational astronomers have begun using this model to fit their asymmetric line profiles and derive infall velocities and other physical parameters for their observations. The fits are good, but do they really tell us anything about the physics of the cloud?
Williams, Lee, & Myers 2006

The Moral of the Story
1. Know your problem.

The Moral of the Story
1. Know your problem. 2. Look for reasonable simplifications.

The Moral of the Story
1. Know your problem. 2. Look for reasonable simplifications. 3. Know where these simplifications apply.

The Moral of the Story
1. Know your problem. 2. Look for reasonable simplifications. 3. Know where these simplifications apply. 4. Convince people you are right.

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