Formation History of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Galaxies

By Keith Cowing
January 22, 2014
Filed under
Formation History of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Galaxies

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are some of the major dust components in the interstellar medium (ISM).

We present our evolution models for the abundance of PAHs in the ISM on a galaxy-evolution timescale. We consider shattering of carbonaceous dust grains in interstellar turbulence as the formation mechanism of PAHs while the PAH abundance can be reduced by coagulation onto dust grains, destruction by supernova shocks, and incorporation into stars. We implement these processes in a one-zone chemical evolution model to obtain the evolution of the PAH abundance in a galaxy. We find that PAH formation becomes accelerated above certain metallicity where shattering becomes efficient.

For PAH destruction, while supernova shock is the primary mechanism in the metal-poor environment, coagulation is dominant in the metal-rich environment. We compare the evolution of the PAH abundances in our models with observed abundances in galaxies with a wide metallicity range. Our models reproduce both the paucity of PAH detection in low metallicity galaxies and the metallicity-dependence of the PAH abundance in high-metallicity galaxies.

The strong metallicity dependence of PAH abundance appears as a result of the strong metallicity dependence of the dust mass increase by the accretion of metals onto dust grains, which are eventually shattered into PAHs. We conclude that the observational trend of the PAH abundance can be a natural consequence of shattering of carbonaceous grains being the source of PAHs. To establish our scenario of PAH formation, observational evidence of PAH formation by shattering would be crucial.

Ji Yeon Seok, Hiroyuki Hirashita, Ryosuke S. Asano (Submitted on 16 Jan 2014)

Comments: 13 pages, 7 figures, 2 tables, accepted for publication in MNRAS

Subjects: Galaxy Astrophysics (astro-ph.GA)

Cite as: arXiv:1401.3943 [astro-ph.GA]

(or arXiv:1401.3943v1 [astro-ph.GA] for this version)

Submission history From: Ji Yeon Seok [view email] [v1] Thu, 16 Jan 2014 09:11:05 GMT (256kb)

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