Dust Emission at 8 and 24 μm as Diagnostics of H ii Region Radiative Transfer

Oey, M. S., López-Hernández, J., Kellar, J. A., Pellegrini, E. W., Gordon, K. D., Jameson, K. E., Li, A., Madden, S. C., Meixner, M., Roman-Duval, J., Bot, C., Rubio, M., & Tielens, A. G. G. M.
2017, The Astrophysical Journal, 844, 63

We use the Spitzer Surveying the Agents of Galaxy Evolution (SAGE) survey of the Magellanic Clouds to evaluate the relationship between the 8 μm polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emission, 24 μm hot dust emission, and H ii region radiative transfer. We confirm that in the higher-metallicity Large Magellanic Cloud, PAH destruction is sensitive to optically thin conditions in the nebular Lyman continuum: objects identified as optically thin candidates based on nebular ionization structure show six times lower median 8 μm surface brightness (0.18 mJy arcsec-2) than their optically thick counterparts (1.2 mJy arcsec-2). The 24 μm surface brightness also shows a factor of three offset between the two classes of objects (0.13 versus 0.44 mJy arcsec-2, respectively), which is driven by the association between the very small dust grains and higher density gas found at higher nebular optical depths. In contrast, PAH and dust formation in the low-metallicity Small Magellanic Cloud is strongly inhibited such that we find no variation in either 8 μm or 24 μm emission between our optically thick and thin samples. This is attributable to extremely low PAH and dust production together with high, corrosive UV photon fluxes in this low-metallicity environment. The dust mass surface densities and gas-to-dust ratios determined from dust maps using Herschel HERITAGE survey data support this interpretation.


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