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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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# 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.

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.

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)

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 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 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

Infalling Cloud: Doppler Shifts

Observer

The Asymmetric Infall Proﬁle

Observer

The Asymmetric Infall Proﬁle

Observer

1. There must be a rising excitation temperature 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.

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.

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

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)

Error

Parameter

Error

Parameter

Error

Parameter

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