Interstellar gas, dust and diffuse bands in the SMC

Cox, N. L. J., Cordiner, M. A., Ehrenfreund, P., Kaper, L., Sarre, P. J., Foing, B. H., Spaans, M., Cami, J., Sofia, U. J., Clayton, G. C., Gordon, K. D., & Salama, F.
2007, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 470, 941


Aims:In order to gain new insight into the unidentified identity of the diffuse interstellar band (DIB) carriers, this paper describes research into possible links between the shape of the interstellar extinction curve (including the 2175 Å bump and far-UV rise), the presence or absence of DIBs, and physical and chemical conditions of the diffuse interstellar medium (gas and dust) in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). Methods: We searched for DIB absorption features in VLT/UVES spectra of early-type stars in the SMC whose reddened lines-of-sight probe the diffuse interstellar medium of the SMC. Apparent column density profiles of interstellar atomic species (Na i, K i, Ca ii and Ti ii) are constructed to provide information on the distribution and conditions of the interstellar gas. Results: The characteristics of eight DIBs detected toward the SMC wing target AzV 456 are studied and upper limits are derived for the DIB equivalent widths toward the SMC stars AzV 398, AzV 214, AzV 18, AzV 65 and Sk 191. The amount of reddening is derived for these SMC sightlines, and, using RV and the H i column density, converted into a gas-to-dust ratio. From the atomic column density ratios we infer an indication of the strength of the interstellar radiation field, the titanium depletion level and a relative measure of turbulence/quiescence. The presence or absence of DIBs appears to be related to the shape of the extinction curve, in particular with respect to the presence or absence of the 2175 Å feature. Our measurements indicate that the DIB characteristics depend on the local physical conditions and chemical composition of the interstellar medium of the SMC, which apparently determine the rate of formation (and/or) destruction of the DIB carriers. The UV radiation field (via photoionisation and photo-destruction) and the metallicity (i.e. carbon abundance) are important factors in determining diffuse band strengths which can differ greatly both between and within galaxies. Based on observations collected with VLT/UVES at the European Southern Observatory, Paranal, Chile (ESO programs 67.C-0281 and 71.C-0679). Tables [see full text]-[see full text] and Fig. [see full text] are only available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org

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