Pixie Dust: The Silicate Features in the Diffuse Interstellar Medium

  • Chiar J
  • Tielens A
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We have analyzed the 9.7 and ``18'' micron interstellar silicate absorption features along the line of sight toward four heavily extincted galactic WC-type Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars. We construct two interstellar extinction curves from 1.25 to 25 micron using near-IR extinction measurements from the literature along with the silicate profiles of WR 98a (representing the local ISM) and GCS 3 (representing the Galactic Center). We have investigated the mineralogy of the interstellar silicates by comparing extinction profiles for amorphous silicates with olivine and pyroxene stochiometry to the 9.7 and ``18'' micron absorption features in the WR 98a spectrum. In this analysis, we have considered solid and porous spheres and a continuous distribution of ellipsoids. While it is not possible to simultaneously provide a perfect match to both profiles, we find the best match requires a mixture of these two types of compounds. We also consider iron oxides, aluminosilicates and silicate carbide (SiC) as grain components. Iron oxides cannot be accommodated in the observed spectrum, while the amount of Si in SiC is limited to

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  • J. E. Chiar

  • A. G. G. M. Tielens

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