Dust depletion of Ca and Ti in QSO absorption-line systems
1 Institut für Physik und Astronomie, Universität Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 24/25, 14476 Golm, Germany
2 Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany
Received: 9 March 2016
Accepted: 9 May 2016
Aims. To explore the role of titanium- and calcium-dust depletion in gas in and around galaxies, we systematically study Ti/Ca abundance ratios in intervening absorption-line systems at low and high redshift.
Methods. We investigate high-resolution optical spectra obtained by the UVES instrument at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and spectroscopically analyze 34 absorption-line systems at z ≤ 0.5 to measure column densities (or limits) for Ca ii and Ti ii. We complement our UVES data set with previously published absorption-line data on Ti/Ca for redshifts up to z ~ 3.8. Our absorber sample contains 110 absorbers including damped Lyman α systems (DLAs), sub-DLAs, and Lyman-Limit systems (LLS). We compare our Ti/Ca findings with results from the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds and discuss the properties of Ti/Ca absorbers in the general context of quasar absorption-line systems.
Results. Our analysis indicates that there are two distinct populations of absorbers with either high or low Ti/Ca ratios with a separation at [Ti/Ca] ≈ 1. While the calcium-dust depletion in most of the absorbers appears to be severe, the titanium depletions are mild in systems with high Ti/Ca ratios. The derived trend indicates that absorbers with high Ti/Ca ratios have dust-to-gas ratios that are substantially lower than in the Milky Way. We characterize the overall nature of the absorbers by correlating Ti/Ca with other observables (e.g., metallicity, velocity-component structure) and by modeling the ionization properties of singly-ionized Ca and Ti in different environments.
Conclusions. We conclude that Ca ii and Ti ii bearing absorption-line systems trace predominantly neutral gas in the disks and inner halo regions of galaxies, where the abundance of Ca and Ti reflects the local metal and dust content of the gas. Our study suggests that the Ti/Ca ratio represents a useful measure for the gas-to-dust ratio and overall metallicity in intervening absorption-line systems.
Key words: quasars: absorption lines / dust, extinction / galaxies: abundances / galaxies: ISM / intergalactic medium
© ESO, 2016