skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Friday, April 12 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, April 13 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Sakurai’s Object revisited: new laboratory data for carbonates and melilites suggest the carrier of 6.9- μ m excess absorption is a carbonate

We present new room-temperature 1100–1800-cm−1 spectra of melilite silicates and 600–2000-cm−1 spectra of three randomly orientated fine-grained carbonates to determine the possible carrier(s) of a 6.9-μm absorption feature observed in a variety of dense astronomical environments, including young stellar objects and molecular clouds. We focus on the low-mass post-asymptotic giant branch star Sakurai’s Object, which has been forming substantial quantities of carbonaceous dust since an eruptive event in the 1990s. Large melilite grains cannot be responsible for the 6.9-μm absorption feature because the similarly shaped feature in the laboratory spectrum was produced by very low (0.1 per cent by mass) carbonate contamination, which was not detected at other wavelengths. Due to the high band strength of the 6.9-μm feature in carbonates, we conclude that carbonates carry the astronomical 6.9-μm feature. Replacement of melilite with carbonates in models of Sakurai’s Object improves fits to the 6–7-μm Spitzer spectra without significantly altering other conclusions of Bowey’s previous models except that there is no link between the feature and the abundance of melilite in meteorites. With magnesite (MgCO3), the abundance of 25-μm-sized SiC grains is increased by 10–50 per cent and better constrained. The mass of carbonate dust is similar to the mass of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon dust. Existing experiments suggest that carbonates are stable below 700 K; however, it is difficult to ascertain the applicability of these experiments to astronomical environments, and more studies are required.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Medium: X Size: p. 1774-1784
["p. 1774-1784"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this

    Analysis of all archival 5–14 micron spectra of field ultracool dwarfs from the Infrared Spectrograph on the Spitzer Space Telescope has shown that absorption by silicates in the 8–11 micron region is seen in most L-type (1300 to 2200 K) dwarfs. The absorption is caused by silicate-rich clouds in the atmospheres of L dwarfs and is strongest at L4–L6 spectral types. Herein we compare averages of the mid-infrared silicate absorption signatures of L3–L7 dwarfs that have low (≲104.5 cm s−2) versus high (≳105 cm s−2) surface gravity. We find that the silicate absorption feature is sensitive to surface gravity, with young atmospheres having a broader, redder, and more asymmetric absorption profile. This indicates a difference in grain size and composition between dust condensates in young and old mid-L dwarfs. The mean silicate absorption profile of low-gravity mid-L dwarfs matches expectations for ∼1 micron-sized amorphous iron- and magnesium-bearing pyroxene (MgxFe1 − xSiO3) grains. High-gravity mid-L dwarfs have silicate absorption better represented by smaller (≲0.1 μm) and more volatile amorphous enstatite (MgSiO3) or SiO grains. This is the first direct spectroscopic evidence for gravity-dependent sedimentation of dust condensates in ultracool atmospheres. It confirms theoretical expectations for lower sedimentation efficiencies in low-gravity atmospheres and independently confirms their increased dustiness.

    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Previous work has argued that atomic gas mass estimates of galaxies from 21-cm H i emission are systematically low due to a cold opaque atomic gas component. If true, this opaque component necessitates a $\sim 35{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ correction factor relative to the mass from assuming optically thin H i emission. These mass corrections are based on fitting H i spectra with a single opaque component model that produces a distinct ‘top-hat’ shaped line profile. Here, we investigate this issue using deep, high spectral resolution H i VLA observations of M31 and M33 to test if these top-hat profiles are instead superpositions of multiple H i components along the line of sight. We fit both models and find that ${\gt}80{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of the spectra strongly prefer a multicomponent Gaussian model while ${\lt}2{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ prefer the single opacity-corrected component model. This strong preference for multiple components argues against previous findings of lines of sight dominated by only cold H i. Our findings are enabled by the improved spectral resolution (0.42 ${\rm km\, s^{-1}}$), whereas coarser spectral resolution blends multiple components together. We also show that the inferred opaque atomic ISM mass strongly depends on the goodness-of-fit definition and is highly uncertain when the inferred spin temperature has a large uncertainty. Finally, we find that the relation of the H i surface density with the dust surface density and extinction has significantly more scatter when the inferred H i opacity correction is applied. These variations are difficult to explain without additionally requiring large variations in the dust properties. Based on these findings, we suggest that the opaque H i mass is best constrained by H i absorption studies. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Cryogenian cap carbonates that overlie Sturtian glacial deposits were formed during a post‐glacial transgression. Here, we describe microfossils from the Kakontwe Formation of Zambia and the Taishir Formation of Mongolia—both Cryogenian age, post‐Sturtian cap carbonates—and investigate processes involved in their formation and preservation. We compare microfossils from these two localities to an assemblage of well‐documented microfossils previously described in the post‐Sturtian Rasthof Formation of Namibia. Microfossils from both new localities have 10 ± 1 μm‐thick walls composed of carbonaceous matter and aluminosilicate minerals. Those found in the Kakontwe Formation are spherical or ovoid and 90 ± 5 μm to 200 ± 5 μm wide. Structures found in the Taishir Formation are mostly spherical, 50 ± 5 μm to 140 ± 5 μm wide, with distinct features such as blunt or concave edges. Chemical and mineralogical analyses show that the walled structures and the clay fraction extracted from the surrounding sediments are composed of clay minerals, especially muscovite and illite, as well as quartz, iron and titanium oxides, and some dolomite and feldspar. At each locality, the mineralogy of the microfossil walls matched that of the clay fractions of the surrounding sediment. The abundance of these minerals in the walled microfossils relative to the surrounding carbonate matrix and microbial laminae, and the presence of minerals that cannot precipitate from solution (titanium oxide and feldspar), suggests that the composition represents the original mineralogy of the structures. Furthermore, the consistency in mineralogy of both microfossils and sediments across the three basins, and the uniformity of size and shape among mineral grains in the fossil walls indicate that these organisms incorporated these minerals by primary biological agglutination. The discovery of new, mineral‐rich microfossil assemblages in microbially laminated and other fine‐grained facies of Cryogenian cap carbonates from multiple localities on different palaeocontinents demonstrates that agglutinating eukaryotes were widespread in carbonate‐dominated marine environments in the aftermath of the Sturtian glaciation.

    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    We present a multiline survey of the interstellar medium (ISM) in two z  > 6 quasar host galaxies, PJ231−20 ( z  = 6.59) and PJ308−21 ( z  = 6.23), and their two companion galaxies. Observations were carried out using the Atacama Large (sub-)Millimeter Array (ALMA). We targeted 11 transitions including atomic fine-structure lines (FSLs) and molecular lines: [NII] 205 μm , [CI] 369 μm , CO ( J up  = 7, 10, 15, 16), H 2 O 3 12  − 2 21 , 3 21  − 3 12 , 3 03  − 2 12 , and the OH 163 μm doublet. The underlying far-infrared (FIR) continuum samples the Rayleigh-Jeans tail of the respective dust emission. By combining this information with our earlier ALMA [CII] 158 μm observations, we explored the effects of star formation and black hole feedback on the ISM of the galaxies using the CLOUDY radiative transfer models. We estimated dust masses, spectral indexes, IR luminosities, and star-formation rates from the FIR continuum. The analysis of the FSLs indicates that the [CII] 158 μm and [CI] 369 μm emission arises predominantly from the neutral medium in photodissociation regions (PDRs). We find that line deficits agree with those of local luminous IR galaxies. The CO spectral line energy distributions (SLEDs) reveal significant high- J CO excitation in both quasar hosts. Our CO SLED modeling of the quasar PJ231−20 shows that PDRs dominate the molecular mass and CO luminosities for J up  ≤ 7, while the J up  ≥ 10 CO emission is likely driven by X-ray dissociation regions produced by the active galactic nucleus (AGN) at the very center of the quasar host. The J up  > 10 lines are undetected in the other galaxies in our study. The H 2 O 3 21  − 3 12 line detection in the same quasar places this object on the L H 2 O  −  L TIR relation found for low- z sources, thus suggesting that this water vapor transition is predominantly excited by IR pumping. Models of the H 2 O SLED and of the H 2 O-to-OH 163 μm ratio point to PDR contributions with high volume and column density ( n H  ∼ 0.8 × 10 5 cm −3 , N H  = 10 24 cm −2 ) in an intense radiation field. Our analysis suggests a less highly excited medium in the companion galaxies. However, the current data do not allow us to definitively rule out an AGN in these sources, as suggested by previous studies of the same objects. This work demonstrates the power of multiline studies of FIR diagnostics in order to dissect the physical conditions in the first massive galaxies emerging from cosmic dawn. 
    more » « less

    Low-mass stars like our Sun begin their evolution within cold (10 K) and dense (∼105 cm−3) cores of gas and dust. The physical structure of starless cores is best probed by thermal emission of dust grains. We present a high-resolution dust continuum study of the starless cores in the B10 region of the Taurus Molecular Cloud. New observations at 1.2 and 2.0 mm (12 and 18 arcsec resolution) with the NIKA2 instrument on the IRAM 30m have probed the inner regions of 14 low-mass starless cores. We perform sophisticated 3D radiative transfer modelling for each of these cores through the radiative transfer framework pandora, which utilizes RADMC-3D. Model best-fits constrain each cores’ central density, density slope, aspect ratio, opacity, and interstellar radiation field strength. These ‘typical’ cores in B10 span central densities from 5 × 104 to 1 × 106 cm−3, with a mean value of 2.6 × 105 cm−3. We find the dust opacity laws assumed in the 3D modelling, as well as the estimates from Herschel, have dust emissivity indices, β’s, on the lower end of the distribution constrained directly from the NIKA2 maps, which averages to β = 2.01 ± 0.48. From our 3D density structures and archival NH3 data, we perform a self-consistent virial analysis to assess each core’s stability. Ignoring magnetic field contributions, we find nine out of the 14 cores (64  per cent) are either in virial equilibrium or are bound by gravity and external pressure. To push the bounded cores back to equilibrium, an effective magnetic field difference of only ∼15 $\mu$G is needed.

    more » « less