Iron abundance in HII regions*
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canarias, Spain (: Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica INAOE, Apdo Postal 51 y 216, 72000 Puebla, Pue., México.)
Corresponding author: email@example.com
Accepted: 20 December 2001
Optical CCD spectra are used to determine the abundances at several positions inside seven bright Galactic HII regions. The observed  line ratios are compared with the predictions of different sets of collision strengths and transition probabilities for this ion to select the atomic data providing the best fit to the observations. The values found for the and abundances, along with ionization correction factors for the contribution of , obtained from available grids of photoionized models, imply that the Fe/O ratio in the ionized gas is between 2% and 30% of solar. The abundances derived for each area are correlated both with the degree of ionization and the colour excess. A possible explanation is suggested, namely the presence of a population of small grains, probably originating from the fragmentation of larger grains. These small grains would release atoms into the gas after the absorption of energetic photons; the small grains surviving this destruction process would be swept out of the ionized region by the action of radiation pressure or stellar winds. An indication of a further and more efficient destruction agent is given by the high abundance derived for a position sampling the optical jet H 399 in M 20, where dust destruction due to shock waves has presumably taken place.
Key words: HII regions / ISM: abundances / dust, extinction
© ESO, 2002