NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2002B-0071

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Proposal Information for 2002B-0071


PI: Adolf N. Witt, University of Toledo, awitt@dusty.astro.utoledo.edu
Address: MS 113, Toledo, OH 43606, USA

CoI: Uma P. Vijh, University of Toledo

Title: Spectroscopy of Photoluminescence Emission by Interstellar Nanoparticles

Abstract: Interstellar grains are known to be the sources of photoluminescence (PL) radiation, which is excited by absorbed UV photons. Previous investigations of this phenomenon have focused upon PL in the red part (540 - 950 nm) of the spectrum, known as extended red emission (ERE). Current models attribute the ERE to nanometer-sized particles such as silicon nanoparticles, hydrocarbon nanoparticles, or large PAH molecules. Each of these models also predict the presence of model- specific PL at still shorter wavelengths, in particular in the 300 - 450 nm range. Our project is designed to undertake a sensitive search for the predicted UV PL in reflection nebulae, where the presence of ERE has been established by earlier observations. If such PL is found in the UV, we expect to determine its spectral characteristics, its spatial distribution and its relation to the already known ERE. In addition, we plan to map the shift in the ERE peak wavelength as a function of position within these nebulae in order to investigate the expected relationship between particle sizes and the wavelengths of their characteristic emissions. This work will be another step in the long struggle to understand the nature of interstellar dust grains.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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