AAS 206th Meeting, 29 May - 2 June 2005
Session 31 Highlights in Laboratory Astrophysics
Topical Session, Wednesday, 8:30-10:00am, 10:45am-12:30pm, 2:30-4:00pm, 4:15-6:00pm, June 1, 2005, 102 D

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[31.08] Interstellar PAH Analogs in the Laboratory - Comparison with Astronomical Data

F. Salama (NASA Ames Research Center)

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are an important and ubiquitous component of carbon-bearing materials in space. PAHs are the best-known candidates to account for the IR emission bands (UIR bands) and PAH spectral features are now being used as new probes of the ISM. PAHs are also thought to be among the carriers of the diffuse interstellar absorption bands (DIBs). In the model dealing with the interstellar spectral features, PAHs are present as a mixture of radicals, ions and neutral species. PAH ionization states reflect the ionization balance of the medium while PAH size, composition, and structure reflect the energetic and chemical history of the medium. A major challenge for laboratory astrophysics is to reproduce (in a realistic way) the physical conditions that exist in the emission and/or absorption interstellar zones. An extensive laboratory program has been developed at NASA Ames to assess the physical and chemical properties of PAHs in such environments and to describe how they influence the radiation and energy balance in space and the interstellar chemistry. In particular, laboratory experiments provide measurements of the spectral characteristics of interstellar PAH analogs from the ultraviolet and visible range to the infrared range for comparison with astronomical data. This paper will focus on the recent progress made in the laboratory to measure the direct absorption spectra of neutral and ionized PAHs in the near-UV and visible range. Intrinsic band profiles and band positions of cold gas-phase PAHs can now be measured with high-sensitivity spectroscopy and directly compared to the astronomical data. Preliminary conclusions from the comparison of the laboratory data with astronomical observations will also be presented.

Acknowledgements: This work is supported by NASA through the Astronomy and Physics Research and Analysis (APRA) Program of the Science Mission Directorate.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: Farid.Salama@nasa.gov

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