Context. Studying the composition of dust in the interstellar medium (ISM) is crucial for understanding the cycle of dust in our galaxy.
Aims: The mid-infrared spectral signature of amorphous silicates, the most abundant dust species in the ISM, is studied in different lines-of-sight through the Galactic plane, thus probing different conditions in the ISM.
Methods: We have analysed ten spectra from the Spitzer archive, of which six lines-of-sight probe diffuse interstellar medium material and four probe molecular cloud material. The 9.7 μm silicate absorption features in seven of these spectra were studied in terms of their shape and strength. In addition, the shape of the 18 μm silicate absorption features in four of the diffuse sightline spectra were analysed.
Results: The 9.7 μm silicate absorption bands in the diffuse sightlines show a strikingly similar band shape. This is also the case for all but one of the 18 μm silicate absorption bands observed in diffuse lines-of-sight. The 9.7 μm bands in the four molecular sightlines show small variations in shape. These modest variations in the band shape are inconsistent with the interpretation of the large variations in τ9.7/E(J - K) between diffuse and molecular sightlines in terms of silicate grain growth. Instead, we suggest that the large changes in τ9.7/E(J - K) must be due to changes in E(J - K).
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- February 2011
- infrared: ISM;
- ISM: clouds;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 14 pages, 19 figures, accepted for publication in A&