NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2003A-0474

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Proposal Information for 2003A-0474


PI: Jan Cami, NASA Ames Research Center, jcami@mail.arc.nasa.gov
Address: Space Science Division, Mail Stop 245-6, Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000, USA

CoI: Farid Salama, NASA Ames Research Center
CoI: Theodore Snow, University of Colorado
CoI: Pascale Ehrenfreund, University of Amsterdam
CoI: Nick Cox, University of Amsterdam
CoI: Nathalie Boudin, ESTEC
CoI: Ludovic Biennier, NASA Ames

Title: A survey of broad Diffuse Interstellar Bands

Abstract: Spectra of reddened stars show more than 300 interstellar absorption bands which are still unidentified, the Diffuse Interstellar Bands (DIBs). The carriers of the DIBs are most likely large organic molecules that reside ubiquitously in space and play an important role in the cosmic carbon budget, evolution of interstellar clouds and star formation, and the formation of large organic (prebiotic) material. The most promising carrier candidates are Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) molecules, carbon chains, carbon rings and fullerenes. At NASA Ames, a unique database is now becoming available of laboratory spectra of DIB carrier candidates measured in the gas phase and at interstellar conditions. The first of these spectra show Lorentzian profiles that are intrinsically broad (FWHM ~ 20 \AA). Although these characteristics correspond very well with those of the strongest DIB at 4430 \AA, the broad DIBs remain largely unexplored. We therefore propose to observe the spectra of reddened stars at moderate resolution and at an unprecedented S/N in order to detect, characterize and analyze the broad DIBs over the wavelength range 3300 - 9700 Aand compare them to this unique laboratory database. This might lead to the first direct identification of some of the DIBs.


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