Spatially resolved polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emission features in nearby, Low metallicity, star-forming galaxies

Korey Haynes, John M. Cannon, Evan D. Skillman, Dale C. Jackson, Robert Gehrz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Low-resolution, mid-infrared Spitzer/IRS spectral maps are presented for three nearby, low-metallicity dwarf galaxies (NGC 55, NGC 3109, and IC 5152) for the purpose of examining the spatial distribution and variation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emission. The sample straddles a metallicity of 12 + log(O/H) ≈ 8, a transition point below which PAH intensity empirically drops and the character of the interstellar medium changes. We derive quantitative radiances of PAH features and atomic lines on both global and spatially resolved scales. The Spitzer spectra, combined with extensive ancillary data from the UV through the mid-infrared, allow us to examine changes in the physical environments and in PAH feature radiances down to a physical scale of ∼50 pc. We discuss correlations between various PAH emission feature and atomic line radiances. The (6.2 μm)/(11.3 μm), (7.7 μm)/(11.3μm), (8.6μm)/(11.3μm), (7.7μm)/(6.2μm), and (8.6μm)/(6.2 μm) PAH radiance ratios are found to be independent of position across all three galaxies, although the ratios do vary from galaxy to galaxy. As seen in other galaxies, we find no variation in the grain size distribution as a function of local radiation field strength. Absolute PAH feature intensities as measured by a ratio of PAH/(24 μm) radiances are seen to vary both positionally within a given galaxy and from one galaxy to another when integrated over the full observed extent of each system. We examine direct comparisons of CC mode PAH ratios (7.7 μm)/(6.2 μm) and (8.6 μm)/(6.2 μm) to the mixed (CC/CH) mode PAH ratio (7.7 μm)/(11.3 μm). We find little variation in either mode and no difference in trends between modes. While the local conditions change markedly over the observed regions of these galaxies, the properties of PAH emission show a remarkable degree of uniformity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-232
Number of pages18
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 20 2010


  • Galaxies: dwarf
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: individual (NGC 55, NGC 3109, IC 5152)
  • Galaxies: irregular


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