Line overlap and self-shielding of molecular hydrogen in galaxies

Nickolay Y. Gnedin, Bruce T. Draine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The effect of line overlap in the Lyman and Werner bands, often ignored in galactic studies of the atomic-to-molecular transition, greatly enhances molecular hydrogen self-shielding in low metallicity environments and dominates over dust shielding for metallicities below about 10% solar. We implement that effect in cosmological hydrodynamics simulations with an empirical model, calibrated against the observational data, and provide fitting formulae for the molecular hydrogen fraction as a function of gas density on various spatial scales and in environments with varied dust abundance and interstellar radiation field. We find that line overlap, while important for detailed radiative transfer in the Lyman and Werner bands, has only a minor effect on star formation on galactic scales, which, to a much larger degree, is regulated by stellar feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number37
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • cosmology: theory
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: formation
  • methods: numerical
  • stars: formation


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