Carbonaceous dust in interstellar shock waves: hydrogenated amorphous carbon (a-C:H) vs. graphite
Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale (IAS), Bâtiment 121, Université Paris-Sud 11 and CNRS, 91405 Orsay, France e-mail: Anthony.Jones@ias.u-psud.fr
Accepted: 13 October 2008
Context. Observations of regions of the interstellar medium affected by shock waves indicate gas phase abundances of carbon that are close to solar. In quiescent regions less than half of the carbon is in the gas phase.
Aims. We propose that hydrogenated amorphous carbon (a-C:H), in its many guises, is the most probable form of carbonaceous grain material in the interstellar medium and study its erosion in shock waves.
Methods. We have used the physical properties typical of a-C:H materials, rather than graphite/amorphous carbon, to study a-C:H erosion during ion irradiation and fragmentation in grain-grain collisions. Using SRIM we study material-, surface- and size-dependent sputtering effects and introduce these effects into a shock model.
Results. We find significantly greater destruction for a-C:H, than for graphite, a result that brings the models into better agreement with existing observations of shocked regions of the ISM. Carbon grain erosion in shock waves therefore appears to be much more efficient than predicted by existing models.
Conclusions. Interstellar hydrogenated amorphous carbon dust is, apparently, rather easily destroyed in shocks and must therefore be more rapidly re-cycled and re-formed during its journey through the interstellar medium than previously-thought.
Key words: ISM: dust, extinction / shock waves / ISM: abundances / ISM: general / ISM: evolution
© ESO, 2008