Ultraviolet photons from O and B stars strongly influence the structure and emission spectra of the interstellar medium. The UV photons energetic enough to ionize hydrogen (hν > 13.6 eV) will create the H II region around the star, but lower energy UV photons escape. These far-UV photons (6 eV < hν < 13.6 eV) are still energetic enough to photodissociate molecules and to ionize low ionization-potential atoms such as carbon, silicon, and sulfur. They thus create a photodissociation region (PDR) just outside the H II region. In aggregate, these PDRs dominate the heating and cooling of the neutral interstellar medium.
The PDR Toolbox is a science-enabling Python package for the community, designed to help astronomers determine the physical parameters of photodissociation regions from observations. Typical observations of both Galactic and extragalactic PDRs come from ground- and space-based millimeter, submillimeter, and far-infrared telescopes such as ALMA, SOFIA, JWST, Spitzer, and Herschel. Given a set of observations of spectral line or continuum intensities, PDR Toolbox can compute best-fit FUV incident intensity and cloud density based on our models of PDR emission.