Three-dimensional geometries and the analysis of H II regions

K. Wood, J.E. Barnes, B. Ercolano, L.M. Haffner, R.J. Reynolds, J. Dale

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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We compare emission line intensities from photoionization models of smooth and fractal shell geometries for low density H II regions, with particular focus on the low-ionization diagnostic diagram [N II]/Hα versus Hα. Building on previously published models and observations of Barnard's Loop, we show that the observed range of intensities and variations in the line intensity ratios may be reproduced with a three-dimensional shell geometry. Our models adopt solar abundances throughout the model nebula, in contrast with previous one-dimensional modeling which suggested the variations in line intensity ratios could only be reproduced if the heavy element abundances were increased by a factor of ∼1.4. For spatially resolved H II regions, the multiple sightlines that pierce and sample different ionization and temperature conditions within smooth and fractal shells produce a range of line intensities that are easily overlooked if only the total integrated intensities from the entire nebula model are computed. Our conclusion is that inference of H II region properties, such as elemental abundances, via photoionization models of one-dimensional geometries must be treated with caution and further tested through three-dimensional modeling.
Original languageEnglish
Article number152
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2013


  • H II regions
  • ISM: abundances


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