I explore the thermal evolution and ionization states in gas cooling from an initially hot state in the presence of external photoionizing radiation. I compute the equilibrium and nonequilibrium cooling efficiencies, heating rates, and ion fractions for low-density gas cooling while exposed to the ionizing metagalactic background radiation at various redshifts (z = 0 - 3), for a range of temperatures (108-104 K), densities (10-7-103cm-3), and metallicities (10-3-2 times solar). The results indicate the existence of a threshold ionization parameter, above which the cooling efficiencies are very close to those in photoionization equilibrium (so that departures from equilibrium may be neglected), and below which the cooling efficiencies resemble those in collisional time-dependent gas cooling with no external radiation (and are thus independent of density).
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- ISM: general
- atomic processes
- intergalactic Medium
- quasars: absorption lines