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Journal Articles The Astrophysical Journal Year : 2011

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and the diffuse interstellar bands: a survey.

Farid Salama
G. A. Galazutdinov
  • Function : Author
J. Krełowski
  • Function : Author
Y. Beletsky
  • Function : Author
In-Ok Song
  • Function : Author


We discuss the proposal of relating the origin of some of the diffuse interstellar absorption bands (DIBs) to neutral polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) present in translucent interstellar clouds. An assessment of ionized PAHs will be examined in a future report. The spectra of several cold, isolated gas-phase PAHs have been measured in the laboratory under experimental conditions that mimic the interstellar conditions and are compared with an extensive set of astronomical spectra of reddened, early-type stars. This comparison provides--for the first time--accurate upper limits for the abundances of specific PAH molecules along specific lines of sight, something not attainable from IR observations alone. The comparison of these unique laboratory data with high-resolution, high signal-to-noise ratio spectra leads to two major findings: (1) a finding specific to the individual molecules that were probed in this study and, which leads to the clear and unambiguous conclusion that the abundance of these specific neutral PAHs must be very low in the individual translucent interstellar clouds that were probed in this survey (PAH features remain below the level of detection) and, (2) a general finding that neutral PAHs exhibit intrinsic band profiles that are similar to the profile of the narrow DIBs indicating that the carriers of the narrow DIBs must have close molecular structure and characteristics. This study is the first quantitative survey of neutral PAHs in the optical range and it opens the way for unambiguous quantitative searches of PAHs in a variety of interstellar and circumstellar environments.

Dates and versions

hal-00711698 , version 1 (25-06-2012)



Farid Salama, G. A. Galazutdinov, J. Krełowski, Ludovic Biennier, Y. Beletsky, et al.. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and the diffuse interstellar bands: a survey.. The Astrophysical Journal, 2011, 728 (2), pp.1-4. ⟨10.1088/0004-637X/728/2/154⟩. ⟨hal-00711698⟩
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