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Title: Determining Interstellar Carbon Abundances from Strong-line Transitions
Authors: Sofia, U. J
Parvathi, V. S
Babu, B. R. S
Murthy, J
Keywords: ISM: abundances;Line: profiles;Methods: analytical
Issue Date: Jan-2011
Publisher: IOP Publishing
Citation: The Astronomical Journal, Vol. 141, 22 (6pp)
Abstract: Carbon is arguably the most important element in the interstellar medium, yet its abundance in gas and dust is poorly understood due to a paucity of data. We explore the possibility of substantially increasing our knowledge of interstellar carbon by applying and assessing a new method for determining the column density of the dominant ion of interstellar carbon in diffuse neutral lines of sight. The method relies on profile fitting of the strong transition of C II at 1334 Å in spectra continuum normalized with stellar models. We apply our method to six sight lines for which the carbon abundance has previously been determined with a weak intersystem absorption transition. Our strong-line method consistently shows a significantly lower gas-phase C abundance than the measurements from the weak lines. This result implies that more carbon could reside in dust than was previously thought. This has implications for dust models, which often suffer from a lack of sufficient carbon to plausibly explain extinction. There is no immediately clear explanation for the difference found between the strong- and weak-line C II determinations, but there are indications that the results from the method presented here have advantages over the weak-line column densities. If this is the case, then the reported oscillator strength for the C II transition at 2325 Å may be too small. Our findings further suggest that damping wings modeled with a single absorption component may not produce accurate abundances. This problem could affect a large number of H I abundances determined through absorption line analysis that are reported in the literature.
Description: Open Access
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Appears in Collections:IIAP Publications

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