The Herschel Dwarf Galaxy Survey: II. Physical conditions, origin of [C II] emission, and porosity of the multiphase low-metallicity ISM

Abstract : The sensitive infrared telescopes, Spitzer and Herschel, have been used to target low-metallicity star-forming galaxies, allowing us to investigate the properties of their interstellar medium (ISM) in unprecedented detail. Interpretation of the observations in physical terms relies on careful modeling of those properties. We have employed a multiphase approach to model the ISM phases (H II region and photodissociation region) with the spectral synthesis code Cloudy. Our goal is to characterize the physical conditions (gas densities, radiation fields, etc.) in the ISM of the galaxies from the Herschel Dwarf Galaxy Survey. We are particularly interested in correlations between those physical conditions and metallicity or star-formation activity. Other key issues we have addressed are the contribution of different ISM phases to the total line emission, especially of the [C II]157 μm line, and the characterization of the porosity of the ISM. We find that the lower-metallicity galaxies of our sample tend to have higher ionization parameters and galaxies with higher specific star-formation rates have higher gas densities. The [C II] emission arises mainly from PDRs and the contribution from the ionized gas phases is small, typically less than 30% of the observed emission. We also find a correlation – though with scatter – between metallicity and both the PDR covering factor and the fraction of [C II] from the ionized gas. Overall, the low metal abundances appear to be driving most of the changes in the ISM structure and conditions of these galaxies, and not the high specific star-formation rates. These results demonstrate in a quantitative way the increase of ISM porosity at low metallicity. Such porosity may be typical of galaxies in the young Universe.
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D. Cormier, N. P. Abel, S. Hony, V. Lebouteiller, S. C. Madden, et al.. The Herschel Dwarf Galaxy Survey: II. Physical conditions, origin of [C II] emission, and porosity of the multiphase low-metallicity ISM. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2019, 626, pp.A23. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201834457⟩. ⟨cea-02149105⟩

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