74 MHz nonthermal emission from molecular clouds: Evidence for a cosmic ray dominated region at the galactic center

F. Yusef-Zadeh*, M. Wardle, D. Lis, S. Viti, C. Brogan, E. Chambers, M. Pound, M. Rickert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


We present 74 MHz radio continuum observations of the Galactic center region. These measurements show nonthermal radio emission arising from molecular clouds that is unaffected by free-free absorption along the line of sight. We focus on one cloud, G0.13-0.13, representative of the population of molecular clouds that are spatially correlated with steep spectrum (α 327MHz74MHz = 1.3 ± 0.3) nonthermal emission from the Galactic center region. This cloud lies adjacent to the nonthermal radio filaments of the Arc near l ∼ 0.2° and is a strong source of 74 MHz continuum, SiO (2-1), and Fe I Kα 6.4 keV line emission. This three-way correlation provides the most compelling evidence yet that relativistic electrons, here traced by 74 MHz emission, are physically associated with the G0.13-0.13 molecular cloud and that low-energy cosmic ray electrons are responsible for the Fe I Kα line emission. The high cosmic ray ionization rate ∼10-13 s-1 H-1 is responsible for heating the molecular gas to high temperatures and allows the disturbed gas to maintain a high-velocity dispersion. Large velocity gradient (LVG) modeling of multitransition SiO observations of this cloud implies H2 densities ∼104-5 cm-3 and high temperatures. The lower limit to the temperature of G0.13-0.13 is ∼100 K, whereas the upper limit is as high as 1000 K. Lastly, we used a time-dependent chemical model in which cosmic rays drive the chemistry of the gas to investigate for molecular line diagnostics of cosmic ray heating. When the cloud reaches chemical equilibrium, the abundance ratios of HCN/HNC and N2H+/HCO+ are consistent with measured values. In addition, significant abundance of SiO is predicted in the cosmic ray dominated region of the Galactic center. We discuss different possibilities to account for the origin of widespread SiO emission detected from Galactic center molecular clouds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9404-9419
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number39
StatePublished - Oct 3 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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