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Compressed magnetized shells of atomic gas and the formation of the Corona Australis molecular cloud

A. Bracco, D. Bresnahan, P. M. Palmeirim, D. Arzoumanian, Ph. André, D. Ward-Thompson, A. Marchal

We present the identification of the previously unnoticed physical association between the Corona Australis molecular cloud (CrA), traced by interstellar dust emission, and two shell-like structures observed with line emission of atomic hydrogen (HI) at 21 cm. Although the existence of the two shells had already been reported in the literature, the physical link between the HI emission and CrA had never been highlighted until now. We used both Planck and Herschel data to trace dust emission and the Galactic All Sky HI Survey (GASS) to trace HI. The physical association between CrA and the shells is assessed based both on spectroscopic observations of molecular and atomic gas and on dust extinction data with Gaia. The shells are located at a distance between ~140 and ~190 pc, which is comparable to the distance of CrA, which we derived as (150.5 ± 6.3) pc. We also employed dust polarization observations from Planck to trace the magnetic-field structure of the shells. Both of them show patterns of magnetic-field lines following the edge of the shells consistently with the magnetic-field morphology of CrA. We estimated the magnetic-field strength at the intersection of the two shells via the Davis-Chandrasekhar-Fermi (DCF) method. Despite the many caveats that are behind the DCF method, we find a magnetic-field strength of (27 ± 8) μG, which is at least a factor of two larger than the magnetic-field strength computed off of the HI shells. This value is also significantly larger compared to the typical values of a few μG found in the diffuse HI gas from Zeeman splitting. We interpret this as the result of magnetic-field compression caused by the shell expansion. This study supports a scenario of molecular-cloud formation triggered by supersonic compression of cold magnetized HI gas from expanding interstellar bubbles.

ISM: clouds; ISM: bubbles; ISM: magnetic fields; ISM: structure; evolution; ISM: kinematics and dynamics; Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies

Astronomy & Astrophysics
Volume 644, Article Number A5, Number of pages 10
2020 December

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Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia