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Title: A lack of constraints on the cold opaque H  i mass: H  i spectra in M31 and M33 prefer multicomponent models over a single cold opaque component
ABSTRACT Previous work has argued that atomic gas mass estimates of galaxies from 21-cm H i emission are systematically low due to a cold opaque atomic gas component. If true, this opaque component necessitates a $\sim 35{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ correction factor relative to the mass from assuming optically thin H i emission. These mass corrections are based on fitting H i spectra with a single opaque component model that produces a distinct ‘top-hat’ shaped line profile. Here, we investigate this issue using deep, high spectral resolution H i VLA observations of M31 and M33 to test if these top-hat profiles are instead superpositions of multiple H i components along the line of sight. We fit both models and find that ${\gt}80{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of the spectra strongly prefer a multicomponent Gaussian model while ${\lt}2{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ prefer the single opacity-corrected component model. This strong preference for multiple components argues against previous findings of lines of sight dominated by only cold H i. Our findings are enabled by the improved spectral resolution (0.42 ${\rm km\, s^{-1}}$), whereas coarser spectral resolution blends multiple components together. We also show that the inferred opaque atomic ISM mass strongly depends on the goodness-of-fit definition and is highly uncertain when more » the inferred spin temperature has a large uncertainty. Finally, we find that the relation of the H i surface density with the dust surface density and extinction has significantly more scatter when the inferred H i opacity correction is applied. These variations are difficult to explain without additionally requiring large variations in the dust properties. Based on these findings, we suggest that the opaque H i mass is best constrained by H i absorption studies. « less
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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1801 to 1824
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National Science Foundation
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