EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 491, Number 3, December I 2008
Page(s) 797 - 807
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:200809850
Published online 01 October 2008

A&A 491, 797-807 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:200809850

Dust processing in photodissociation regions

Mid-IR emission modelling
M. Compiègne1, 2, A. Abergel1, L. Verstraete1, and E. Habart1

1  Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, UMR 8617, CNRS, Université Paris-sud XI, Bâtiment 121, 91405 Orsay Cedex, France
2  Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto, 60 St. George Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3H8, Canada
    e-mail: compiegne@cita.utoronto.ca

Received 26 March 2008/Accepted 2 September 2008

Context. Mid-infrared spectroscopy of dense illuminated ridges (or photodissociation regions, PDRs) suggests dust evolution. Such evolution must be reflected in the gas physical properties through processes like photo-electric heating or H2 formation.
Aims. With Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) and ISOCAM data, we study the mid-IR emission of closeby, well known PDRs. Focusing on the band and continuum dust emissions, we follow their relative contributions and analyze their variations in terms of abundance of dust populations.
Methods. In order to disentangle dust evolution and excitation effects, we use a dust emission model that we couple to radiative transfer. Our dust model reproduces extinction and emission of the standard interstellar medium that we represent with diffuse high galactic latitude clouds called Cirrus. We take the properties of dust in Cirrus as a reference to which we compare the dust emission from more excited regions, namely the Horsehead and the reflection nebula NGC 2023 North.
Results. We show that in both regions, radiative transfer effects cannot account for the observed spectral variations. We interpret these variations in term of changes of the relative abundance between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, mid-IR band carriers) and very small grains (VSGs, mid-IR continuum carriers).
Conclusions. We conclude that the PAH/VSG abundance ratio is 2.4 times smaller at the peak emission of the Horsehead nebula than in the Cirrus case. For NGC 2023 North where spectral evolution is observed across the northern PDR, we conclude that this ratio is ~5 times lower in the dense, cold zones of the PDR than in its diffuse illuminated part where dust properties seem to be the same as in Cirrus. We conclude that dust in PDRs seems to evolve from “dense” to “diffuse” properties at the small spatial scale of the dense illuminated ridge.

Key words: ISM: individual objects: Horsehead -- ISM: individual objects: NGC 2023 -- ISM: dust, extinction -- infrared: ISM

© ESO 2008