The effects of metallicity, radiation field and dust extinction on the charge state of PAHs in diffuse clouds: implications for the DIB carrier
Astronomical Institute “Anton Pannekoek”, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Kruislaan 403, 1098-SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands e-mail: email@example.com
2 Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, PO Box 800, 9700-AV Groningen, The Netherlands
Accepted: 27 January 2006
Context.The unidentified diffuse interstellar bands (DIB) are observed throughout the Galaxy, the Local Group and beyond. Their carriers are possibly related to complex carbonaceous gas-phase molecules, such as (cationic) polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and fullerenes.
Aims.In order to reveal the identity of the DIB carrier we investigate the effects of metallicity, radiation field and extinction curve on the PAH charge state distribution, and thus the theoretical emergent PAH spectrum, in diffuse interstellar clouds. This behaviour can then be linked to that of the DIB carrier, thus giving insight into its identity.
Methods.We use radiative transfer and chemical models to compute the physical and chemical conditions in diffuse clouds with Galactic and Magellanic Cloud types of interstellar dust and gas. Subsequently, the PAH charge state distributions throughout these clouds are determined.
Results.We find that the fraction of PAH cations is much higher in the Magellanic Cloud environments than in the Milky Way, caused predominantly by the respective lower metallicities, and mitigated by the steeper UV extinction curve. The fraction of anions is much lower in a low metallicity environment. The predicted DIB strength of cationic PAH carriers is similar to that of the Milk Way for the LMC and 40% for the SMC due to the overall metallicity. Stronger DIBs could be expected in the Magellanic Clouds if they emanate from clouds that are exposed to an average interstellar radiation field that is significantly stronger than in the Milky Way, although photo-destruction processes could possibly reduce this effect, especially for the smaller PAHs. Our results show that the presence and absence of DIB carriers in the Magellanic Cloud lines of sight can be tied to the PAH charge balance which is driven by metallicity, UV radiation and dust extinction effects.
Key words: astrochemistry / ISM: clouds / ISM: dust, extinction / ISM: molecules / ISM: lines and bands / Magellanic Clouds
© ESO, 2006