Determining the Grain Composition of the Interstellar Medium with High-Resolution X-Ray Spectroscopy
We investigate the ability of high-resolution X-ray spectroscopy to directly probe the grain composition of the interstellar medium. Using iron K-edge experimental data of likely ISM dust candidates taken at the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, we explore the prospects for determining the chemical composition of astrophysical dust and discuss a technique for doing so. Focusing on the capabilities of the Astro-E2 XRS microcalorimeters, we assess the limiting effects of spectral resolution and noise for detecting significant X-ray absorption fine structure signal in astrophysical environments containing dust. We find that given sufficient signal, the resolution of the XRS will allow us to definitively distinguish gas-phase from dust-phase absorption and certain chemical compositions.