The Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury. VII. The Steep Mid-ultraviolet to Near-infrared Extinction Curve in the Central 200 pc of the M31 Bulge

Dong, Hui, Li, Zhiyuan, Wang, Q. D., Lauer, Tod R., Olsen, Knut, Saha, Abhijit, Dalcanton, Julianne, Gordon, Karl, Fouesneau, Morgan, Bell, Eric, & Bianchi, Luciana
2014, The Astrophysical Journal, 785, 136


We measure the extinction curve in the central 200 pc of M31 at mid-ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths (from 1928 Å to 1.5 μm), using Swift/UVOT and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3)/Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) observations in 13 bands. Taking advantage of the high angular resolution of the HST/WFC3 and ACS detectors, we develop a method to simultaneously determine the relative extinction and the fraction of obscured starlight for five dusty complexes located in the circumnuclear region. The extinction curves of these clumps (RV = 2.4-2.5) are steeper than the average Galactic one (RV = 3.1), but are similar to optical and near-infrared curves recently measured toward the Galactic bulge (RV ~ 2.5). This similarity suggests that steep extinction curves may be common in the inner bulge of galaxies. In the ultraviolet, the extinction curves of these clumps are also unusual. We find that one dusty clump (size < 2 pc) exhibits a strong UV bump (extinction at 2175 Å), more than three standard deviation higher than that predicted by common models. Although the high stellar metallicity of the M31 bulge indicates that there are sufficient carbon and silicon to produce large dust grains, the grains may have been destroyed by supernova explosions or past activity of the central supermassive black hole, resulting in the observed steepened extinction curve.

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