A self-consistent model of Galactic stellar and dust infrared emission and the abundance of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons⋆
T.P. Robitaille1, 2, E. Churchwell3, R.A. Benjamin4, B.A. Whitney3,5, K. Wood6, B.L. Babler3 and M.R. Meade3
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Königstuhl 17, 69117
2 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
3 Department of Astronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA
4 Department of Physics, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Whitewater, WI 53190, USA
5 Space Science Institute, 4750 Walnut St. Suite 205, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
6 School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St. Andrews, North Haugh, St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9SS, UK
Accepted: 1 August 2012
We present a self-consistent three-dimensional Monte-Carlo radiative transfer model of the stellar and dust emission in the Milky-Way, and have computed synthetic observations of the 3.6 to 100 μm emission in the Galactic mid-plane. To compare the model to observations, we use the GLIMPSE, MIPSGAL, and IRAS surveys to construct total emission spectra, as well as longitude and latitude profiles for the emission. The distribution of stars and dust is taken from the SKY model, and the dust emissivities include an approximation of the emission from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in addition to thermal emission. The model emission is in broad agreement with the observations, but a few modifications are needed to obtain a good fit. Firstly, by adjusting the model to include two major and two minor spiral arms rather than four equal spiral arms, the fit to the longitude profiles for |ℓ| > 30° can be improved. Secondly, introducing a deficit in the dust distribution in the inner Galaxy results in a better fit to the shape of the IRAS longitude profiles at 60 and 100 μm. With these modifications, the model fits the observed profiles well, although it systematically under-estimates the 5.8 and 8.0 μm fluxes. One way to resolve this discrepancy is to increase the abundance of PAH molecules by 50% compared to the original model, although we note that changes to the dust distribution or radiation field may provide alternative solutions. Finally, we use the model to quantify which stellar populations contribute the most to the heating of different dust types and which stellar populations and dust types contribute the most to the emission at different wavelengths.
Key words: radiative transfer / galaxies: structure / infrared: ISM
Scripts to reproduce the radiative transfer model are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org.
© ESO, 2012