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Carbonaceous dust grains in luminous infrared galaxies: Spitzer/IRS reveals a-C:H as an abundant and ubiquitous ISM component

AuthorsDartois, Emmanuel; Muñoz-Caro, Guillermo M.
KeywordsISM: dust, extinction
Galaxies: ISM
Methods: laboratory
Issue DateDec-2007
PublisherEDP Sciences
CitationAstronomy and Astrophysics 476(3): 1235-1242 (2007)
Abstract[Aims] The available ground- and space-based spectroscopic capabilities of observatories now allow us to extend Galactic interstellar medium composition studies to extragalactic cases. Absorptions in the mid-infrared shows evidence for silicate and carbonaceous grains in other galaxies.
[Methods] A set of extragalactic spectra of luminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs) has been extracted from the Spitzer database and compared to the spectra of laboratory-produced interstellar carbon dust analogues.
[Results] These highly obscured lines-of-sight display the characteristic absorptions at ~6.85 and 7.25 μm of the CH3/CH2 deformation modes of hydrogenated amorphous carbon (a-C:H) grains. They are compared to laboratory-produced a-C:H and imply carbon atom column densities in the solid phase exceeding ~10(18) cm-2.
[Conclusions] These observations further demonstrate the ubiquitousness of a-C:H in the diffuse interstellar medium (DISM) of galaxies, for a long time almost only observed in the Milky-Way ISM lines-of-sights. Whereas PAH emission lines trace the re-processing of energetic young stellar radiation, the observed a-C:H features underline the existence of large masses of amorphous carbon dust in (extra-)galactic dust budgets. The difficulty in observing such an interstellar component in the mid-infrared is linked to its low absorption contrast (A(V)/τ(6.85) ≈ 625 ± 40) for the strongest band, which therefore requires high column densities to detect a-C:H grains. Such carbon grains might be present but spectroscopically hidden in many other galactic environments.
Description8 pages, 3 figures, 2 tables.-- ISI Article Identifier: 000251507500018.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20077798
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