Astrophys. J., 712, 164-187 (2010/March-3)
The Spitzer view of low-metallicity star formation. III. Fine-structure lines, aromatic features, and molecules.
HUNT L.K., THUAN T.X., IZOTOV Yu.I. and SAUVAGE M.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present low- and high-resolution Spitzer/IRS spectra, supplemented by Infrared Array Camera and Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer measurements, of 22 blue compact dwarf (BCD) galaxies. The BCD sample spans a wide range in oxygen abundance (12+log(O/H) between 7.4 and 8.3), and hardness of the interstellar radiation field (ISRF). The Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) spectra provide us with a rich set of diagnostics to probe the physics of star and dust formation in very low metallicity environments. We find that metal-poor BCDs have harder ionizing radiation than metal-rich galaxies: [O IV] emission is ≳4 times as common as [Fe II] emission. They also have a more intense ISRF, as indicated by the 71 to 160 µm luminosity ratio. Two-thirds of the sample (15 BCDs) show polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) features, although the fraction of PAH emission normalized to the total infrared (IR) luminosity is considerably smaller in metal-poor BCDs (∼0.5%) than in metal-rich star-forming galaxies (∼10%). We find several lines of evidence for a deficit of small PAH carriers at low metallicity, and attribute this to destruction by a hard, intense ISRF, only indirectly linked to metal abundance. Our IRS spectra reveal a variety of H2 rotational lines, and more than a third of the objects in our sample (eight BCDs) have ≳3σ detections in one or more of the four lowest-order transitions. The warm gas masses in the BCDs range from 103 M☉ to 108 M☉, and can be comparable to the neutral hydrogen gas mass; relative to their total IR luminosities, some BCDs contain more H2 than Spitzer Nearby Galaxy Survey galaxies.
galaxies: dwarf - galaxies: irregular - galaxies: ISM - galaxies: starburst - infrared: ISM
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