Several neutral species (Mg I, Si I, Ca I, Fe I) have been detected in a weak Mg II absorption line system (Wr (2796) ~ 0.15 Å) at z ~ 0.45 along the sightline toward HE0001-2340. These observations require extreme physical conditions, as noted in D'Odorico. We place further constraints on the properties of this system by running a wide grid of photoionization models, determining that the absorbing cloud that produces the neutral absorption is extremely dense (~100-1000 cm-3), cold (< 100 K), and has significant molecular content (~72%-94%). Structures of this size and temperature have been detected in Milky Way CO surveys and have been predicted in hydrodynamic simulations of turbulent gas. In order to explain the observed line profiles in all neutral and singly ionized chemical transitions, the lines must suffer from unresolved saturation and/or the absorber must partially cover the broad emission line region of the background quasar. In addition to this highly unusual cloud, three other ordinary weak Mg II clouds (within densities of ~0.005 cm-3 and temperatures of ~10, 000 K) lie within 500 km s-1 along the same sightline. We suggest that the ''bare molecular cloud,'' which appears to reside outside of a galaxy disk, may have had in situ star formation and may evolve into an ordinary weak Mg II absorbing cloud. Based on public data obtained from the ESO archive of observations from the UVES spectrograph at the VLT, Paranal, Chile.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in The Astrophysical Journal, v. 715, no. 2, p. 1497-1507.

© 2010. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.

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

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)