Harvard Astronomy 201b

CHAPTER: Chemistry

In Book Chapter on February 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm

See Draine Table 1.4 for elemental abundances for the proto-solar environment. H:He:C = 1:0.1:3 \times 10^{-4} by number. 1:0.4:3.5 \times 10^{-3} by mass However, these ratios vary by position in the galaxy, especially for heavier elements (which depend on stellar processing). For example, the abundance of heavy elements (Z > Carbon) is twice as low at the sun’s position than in the Galactic center. Even though metals account for 1% of the mass, they dominate most of the important chemistry, ionization, and heating/cooling processes. They are essential for star formation, as they allow molecular clouds to cool and collapse. Generally, it is easier (i.e. requires less energy) to dissociate a molecule than to ionize something. The lower the electronic state you are trying to ionize, the more energy is needed. The Lyman Limit is the minimum photon energy needed to ionize Hydrogen from the ground state (13.6 eV, 912 Angstrom).

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