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The 21 μm and 30 μm emission features in carbon-rich objects

Abstract

We review the observational properties and possible carriers of the 21 and 30 μm features seen in the spectra of evolved carbon-rich objects. The 30 μm feature is generally taken to be due to MgS, possibly in combination with other sulfides. It is commonly assumed that the sulfides coat grains of SiC or amorphous carbon, but it remains unclear if coated grains can produce the observed feature given the low relative abundance of sulfur and the optical constraints on the thickness of the coating and size of the grains. The lack of optical constants for MgS at wavelengths below 1 μm hampers attempts to model the dust shells of these objects. A small number of alternative carriers have been proposed, but these have not been investigated thoroughly. The situation for the 21 μm feature is more ambiguous. Many carriers have been proposed, but each has issues, and none have gained broad support. The feature only appears in carbon-rich objects which have evolved off of the asymptotic giant branch but have not yet become planetary nebulae. The spectral class of the central star is typically F or G. The transient nature of the 21 μm feature is an important clue to the nature of its carrier. It appears with a variety of other infrared emission features related to complex hydrocarbons, including aliphatic species and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, but correlations with specific features have proven difficult to quantify.

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Notes

  1. The term “N band” refers to the atmospheric window between about 8 and 13 μm, while “Q band” refers to the longer wavelength window between 16 and 24 μm. See for example Cox (2000), page 145.

  2. The table excludes a Pan-STARRS detection very close to the Gaia DR2 position (objID 101582799320378824), but with photometry an order of magnitude brighter than expected from the Gaia and 2MASS photometry. The Pan-STARRS quality flag (qualityFlagvalue 104) suggests possible issues with the photometry.

  3. See https://irsa.ipac.caltech.edu/applications/DUST.

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Acknowledgements

This work has made use of data from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia (https://www.cosmos.esa.int/gaia), processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC, https://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/gaia/dpac/consortium). Funding for the DPAC has been provided by national institutions, in particular the institutions participating in the Gaia Multilateral Agreement.

This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

This research has also made use of the NASA Astrophysics Data System, the SIMBAD and VizieR services of the Centre de Donnees astronomiques de Strasbourg, and the Pan-STARRS survey.

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Volk, K., Sloan, G.C. & Kraemer, K.E. The 21 μm and 30 μm emission features in carbon-rich objects. Astrophys Space Sci 365, 88 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10509-020-03798-2

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Keywords

  • AGB and post-AGB
  • Mass-loss
  • Carbon
  • Circumstellar matter