Astrophysics (Index)About

HII region

(HII, HII cloud)
(cloud of partially-ionized atomic hydrogen)

An HII region (HII, pronounced as "H two region" or "H two") is a hydrogen cloud that is partly ionized hydrogen (HII). Typically their temperatures reach 10,000 K. They often exhibit a 656.3 nm hydrogen emission line (H-alpha of the Balmer series). Region sizes range from a fraction of a parsec to hundreds of parsecs across. The Orion Nebula and the Horsehead Nebula are examples of HII regions. Other kinds of hydrogen clouds are HI regions and molecular clouds. HI regions and HII regions are termed diffuse clouds and molecular clouds are termed dense clouds.

Much of the ISM consists of HII, but is very thin, and neutral atomic hydrogen regions (HI regions) form where this very diffuse material sufficiently cools. What are termed HII regions form after HI regions further cool into molecular clouds and hot, blue, early stars such as OB stars form. These produce ionizing radiation, ultraviolet with photons of sufficient energy to ionize nearby hydrogen in the molecular clouds, producing a more-distinct, higher-density region of HII. A Strömgren sphere is a model of such a region when formed around a single star. Small HII regions are known as compact HII regions or (smaller) ultracompact HII regions (UCHII) or (smallest) hypercompact HII regions (HCHII). Larger such regions are considered the result of more than one such star. Since such stars don't last long, HII regions are taken as a short-lived result of star formation and constitute a sign that star formation has occurred recently. At the border between the HII region and the surrounding molecular cloud, the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is insufficiently intensive to change the balance toward ionization, but sufficient to cause enough photodissociation to form an intervening photodissociation region. It is thought that the EMR from the bright star(s) and the heating of the gas pushes and compresses surrounding molecules, leading to more gravitational collapse and resulting (additional) star formation in the surrounding the molecular cloud.

HII regions have at times been used to determine distances to galaxies, though I believe this is now considered unreliable. The theory is of the existence of a HII region size—galactic luminosity relation, specifically, a relation between the luminosity of a spiral galaxy and the size of its largest HII regions.

(hydrogen,cloud type,star formation,gas,ionization)
Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
Bok globule
ionized carbon fine structure line ([CII])
core collapse supernova (CCSN)
diffuse emission
Dickel-Wendker-Bieritz Catalog (DWB)
emission nebula
forbidden line
ionized hydrogen (HII)
HI region (HI)
hydrogen (H)
ionization correction factor (ICF)
interstellar medium (ISM)
molecular cloud
Orion Nebula (M42)
photodissociation region (PDR)
Sharpless Catalog (Sh2)
The Survey for Ionization in Neutral Gas Galaxies (SINGG)
Strömgren sphere
thermal bremsstrahlung
three dimensional model
VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey (VFTS)