A simple model for molecular hydrogen chemistry coupled to radiation hydrodynamics

Sarah Nickerson, Romain Teyssier, Joakim Rosdahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We introduce non-equilibrium molecular hydrogen chemistry into the radiation hydrodynamics code RAMSES-RT. This is an adaptive mesh refinement grid code with radiation hydrodynamics that couples the thermal chemistry of hydrogen and helium to moment-based radiative transfer with the Eddington tensor closure model. The H2 physics that we include are formation on dust grains, gas phase formation, formation by three-body collisions, collisional destruction, photodissociation, photoionization, cosmic ray ionization, and self-shielding. In particular, we implement the first model for H2 self-shielding that is tied locally to moment-based radiative transfer by enhancing photodestruction. This self-shielding from Lyman-Werner line overlap is critical to H2 formation and gas cooling. We can now track the non-equilibrium evolution of molecular, atomic, and ionized hydrogen species with their corresponding dissociating and ionizing photon groups. Over a series of tests we show that our model works well compared to specialized photodissociation region codes.We successfully reproduce the transition depth between molecular and atomic hydrogen, molecular cooling of the gas, and a realistic Strömgren sphere embedded in a molecular medium. In this paper we focus on test cases to demonstrate the validity of our model on small scales. Our ultimate goal is to implement this in large-scale galactic simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3206-3226
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 21 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Methods: numerical
  • Molecular processes
  • Radiative transfer


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