The influence of variations of the elemental composition on the thermal properties of gas behind shock fronts
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The homogenization of inhomogeneities in the elemental composition of the interstellar medium due to stellar evolution and weak mixing are inevitably related to the action of shocks. This paper considers the influence of variations in the elemental composition on the thermal and ionizational evolution of a collisional gas with the solar metallicity that is cooled behind a shock front with a velocity of 50–120 km/s. The intensities of lines of heavy elements in plasma cooling behind a shock front depend not only on variations in the elemental composition, but also on the shock velocity, due to the different values of the critical density for the transition to the equilibrium level populations in atoms and ions of heavy elements. This circumstance can be used to determine the elemental composition of cool and warm gas of the interstellar medium, as well as the thermal history of the gas.
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