The gas kinetic temperature (TK) of various interstellar environments is often inferred from observations that can deduce level populations of atoms, ions, or molecules using spectral line observations; H I 21 cm is perhaps the most widely used, and has a long history. Usually the H I 21 cm line is assumed to be in thermal equilibrium and the populations are given by the Boltzmann distribution. A variety of processes, many involving Lyα, can affect the 21 cm line. Here we show how this is treated in the spectral simulation code Cloudy, and present numerical simulations of environments where this temperature indicator is used, with a detailed treatment of the physical processes that determine level populations within H0. We discuss situations where this temperature indicator traces TK, cases where it fails, as well as the effects of Lyα pumping on the 21 cm spin temperature. We also show that the Lyα excitation temperature rarely traces the gas kinetic temperature.

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Published in The Astrophysical Journal, v. 843, no. 2, 149, p. 1-10.

© 2017. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

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G.J.F. acknowledges support by NSF (1108928, 1109061, and 1412155), NASA (10-ATP10-0053, 10-ADAP10-0073, NNX12AH73G, and ATP13-0153), and STScI (HST-AR- 13245, GO-12560, HST-GO-12309, GO-13310.002-A, and HST-AR-13914).