EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 438, Number 1, July IV 2005
Page(s) 187 - 199
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20042340

A&A 438, 187-199 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20042340

Diffuse interstellar bands of unprecedented strength in the line of sight towards high-mass X-ray binary 4U 1907+09

N. L. J. Cox 1, L. Kaper 1, B. H. Foing 2 and P. Ehrenfreund 3, 1

1  Astronomical Institute "Anton Pannekoek", University of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 403, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    e-mail: ncox@science.uva.nl
2  ESA/SCI-SR, ESTEC, PO Box 299, 2200 AG Noordwijk, The Netherlands
3  Astronomy Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, PO Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands

(Received 9 November 2004 / Accepted 4 April 2005)

High-resolution VLT/UVES spectra of the strongly reddened O supergiant companion to the X-ray pulsar 4U 1907+09 provide a unique opportunity to study the nature of the diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) at unprecedented strength. We detect about 180 known DIBs, of which about 25 were listed as tentative and are now confirmed. A dozen new DIB candidates longwards of 6900 Å are identified. We show that the observed 5797 Å DIB strength is in line with the Galactic correlation with reddening, whereas the 5780 Å DIB strength is relatively weak. This indicates the contribution of denser regions, where the UV penetration is reduced. The presence of dense cloud cores is supported by the detection of C2 rotational transitions. Members of one DIB family (5797, 6379 Å and 6196, 6613 Å) behave coherently, although one can make a distinction between the two correlated pairs. The broadened profiles of narrow DIBs are shown to be consistent with the premise that each of the main clouds in the line of sight discerned in the interstellar $\ion{K}{i}$ profile is contributing proportionally to the DIB profile. We complement and extend the relation of DIB strength with reddening E(B-V), as well as with neutral hydrogen column density N( $\ion{H}{i}$), respectively, using strongly reddened sightlines towards another four distant HMXBs. The 5780 Å DIB, and tentatively also the 5797 and 6613 Å DIBs, are better correlated to the gas tracer $\ion{H}{i}$ than to the dust tracer E(B-V). The resulting relationship can be applied to any line of sight to obtain an estimate of the $\ion{H}{i}$ column density. In the search for the nature of the DIB carrier, this strongly reddened line of sight is a complementary addition to single cloud line of sight studies.

Key words: ISM: lines and bands -- X-rays: individual: 4U 1907+09

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