EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 410, Number 2, November I 2003
Page(s) 623 - 637
Section Formation, structure and evolution of stars
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20031211
Published online 17 November 2003

A&A 410, 623-637 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20031211

Testing the "strong" PAHs hypothesis

I. Profile invariance of electronic transitions of interstellar PAH cations
G. Malloci1, 2, G. Mulas1 and P. Benvenuti2, 3

1  INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari - AstroChemistry Group, Strada n. 54, Loc. Poggio dei Pini, 09012 Capoterra (CA), Italy
2  Dipartimento di Fisica, Università degli Studi di Cagliari, S.P. Monserrato-Sestu Km 0.7, 09042 Cagliari, Italy
3  Space Telescope-European Coordinating Facility, ESA, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85748 Garching bei Munchen, Germany

(Received 15 April 2003 / Accepted 5 August 2003 )

The so-called "strong" Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) hypothesis postulates that isolated PAHs, which are thought to be the carriers of the Unidentified Infrared Bands, ought to be also responsible for a large number of Diffuse Interstellar Bands (DIBs). In this framework, the spectral profile of such DIBs should be due to unresolved rotational structure of vibronic absorption bands, the rotation of the molecule being by and large governed by the interaction with the interstellar radiation field. In this paper we quantitatively test the above hypothesis against the observational constraint of DIBs profile invariance, by using Monte-Carlo methods to model the photophysics of a prototypical interstellar PAH, namely the ovalene cation (C 32H 14+). Our results show that the predicted rotational band profiles are remarkably insensitive to both the ambient conditions and the assumed values of some poorly known parameters. The present model therefore offers a quantitative link between any given PAH and the observed DIB profiles, providing a valuable tool for molecular identification.

Key words: astrochemistry -- line: identification -- line: profiles -- molecular processes -- ISM: lines and bands -- ISM: molecules

Offprint request: G. Malloci, gmalloci@ca.astro.it

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© ESO 2003

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