Evaporating very small grains as tracers of the UV radiation field in photo-dissociation regions
1 Université de Toulouse, UPS-OMP, IRAP, Toulouse, France
2 CNRS, IRAP, 9 Av. colonel Roche, BP 44346, 31028 Toulouse Cedex 4, France
3 Centro de Astrobiología (INTA-CSIC), Ctra. M-108, km. 4, 28850 Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain
4 Observatorio Astronómico Nacional, Apdo. 112, 28803 Alcalá de Henares, Spain
Received: 12 October 2010
Accepted: 19 April 2012
Context. In photo-dissociation regions (PDRs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may be produced by evaporation of very small grains (VSGs) by the impinging UV radiation field from a nearby star.
Aims. We quantitatively investigate the transition zone between evaporating VSGs (eVSGs) and PAHs in several PDRs.
Methods. We studied the relative contribution of PAHs and eVSGs to the mid-IR emission in a wide range of excitation conditions. We fitted the observed mid-IR emission of PDRs by using a set of template band emission spectra of PAHs, eVSGs, and gas lines. The fitting tool PAHTAT (PAH Toulouse Astronomical Templates) is made available to the community as an IDL routine. From the results of the fit, we derived the fraction of carbon feVSG locked in eVSGs and compared it to the intensity of the local UV radiation field.
Results. We show a clear decrease of feVSG with increasing intensity of the local UV radiation field, which supports the scenario of photo-destruction of eVSGs. Conversely, this dependence can be used to quantify the intensity of the UV radiation field for different PDRs, including unresolved ones.
Conclusions. PAHTAT can be used to trace the intensity of the local UV radiation field in regions where eVSGs evaporate, which correspond to relatively dense (nH = [100,105] cm-3) and UV irradiated PDRs (G0 = [100,5 × 104] ) where H2 emits in rotational lines.
Key words: photon-dominated region (PDR) / astrochemistry / dust, extinction / ISM: lines and bands / infrared: ISM / ISM: molecules
© ESO, 2012