Astrophysics (Index)About

ionized carbon fine structure line

([CII], ionized carbon forbidden line)
(carbon line that traces distant star formation)

The [CII] 158 μm line, aka ionized carbon fine structure line or ionized carbon forbidden line, is a spectral line produced by a small (fine structure), rare (forbidden) transition in singly ionized carbon. It is within the far infrared.

As far as I can make out, carbon is ionized at a similar energy-absorption amount as is hydrogen, so where hot, short-live, stars produce ultraviolet black-body radiation that ionizes hydrogen (forming HII regions), they also ionize the small amount of resident carbon. The [CII] emission line serves as a tracer for the star formation indicated the presence of such stars.

The wavelength is not within an atmospheric window, but from cosmological distances, can be redshifted into windows and viewed from ideal ground locations. The degree of redshift provides a proxy for the lookback time of the detected star formation. A hope is to detect activity in early galaxies, during the epoch of reionization.

Further reading:
158μm1.9THz7.9meVionized carbon fine structure line

Referenced by pages:
carbon (C)
Fred Young Submillimeter Telescope (FYST)
epoch of reionization (EOR)
fine structure
intensity mapping
Millimeter-wave Intensity Mapping Experiment (mmIME)
spectral line designation
Tomographic Ionized-carbon Mapping Experiment (TIME)