A bare molecular cloud at z ∼ 0.45

Therese M. Jones, Toru Misawa, Jane C. Charlton, Andrew C. Mshar, Gary J. Ferland

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15 Scopus citations


Several neutral species (Mg I, Si I, Ca I, Fe I) have been detected in a weak Mg II absorption line system (Wr (2796) ∼ 0.15) at z ∼ 0.45 along the sightline toward HE0001-2340. These observations require extreme physical conditions, as noted in D'Odorico. We place further constraints on the properties of this system by running a wide grid of photoionization models, determining that the absorbing cloud that produces the neutral absorption is extremely dense (∼100-1000cm-3), cold (<100K), and has significant molecular content (∼72%-94%). Structures of this size and temperature have been detected in Milky Way CO surveys and have been predicted in hydrodynamic simulations of turbulent gas. In order to explain the observed line profiles in all neutral and singly ionized chemical transitions, the lines must suffer from unresolved saturation and/or the absorber must partially cover the broad emission line region of the background quasar. In addition to this highly unusual cloud, three other ordinary weak Mg II clouds (within densities of 0.005cm-3 and temperatures of 10, 000K) lie within 500kms -1 along the same sightline. We suggest that the "bare molecular cloud," which appears to reside outside of a galaxy disk, may have had in situ star formation and may evolve into an ordinary weak Mg II absorbing cloud.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1497-1507
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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