Interpretation Of Infrared Vibration-Rotation Spectra Of Interstellar And Circumstellar Molecules
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Infrared vibration-rotation lines can be valuable probes of interstellar and circumstellar molecules, especially symmetric molecules, which have no pure rotational transitions. But most such observations have been interpreted with an isothermal absorbing slab model, which leaves out important radiative transfer and molecular excitation effects. A more realistic non-LTE and non-isothermal radiative transfer model has been constructed. The results of this model are in much better agreement with the observations, including cases where lines in one branch of a vibration-rotation band are in absorption and another in emission. In general, conclusions based on the isothermal absorbing slab model can be very misleading, but the assumption of LTE may not lead to such large errors, particularly if the radiation field temperature is close to the gas temperature.