Grains in ionized nebulae: Spectral line diagnostics

J. Kingdon, G. J. Ferland, W. A. Feibelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The depletion of condensable elements onto grains in gaseous nebulae can provide evidence that dust is well mixed with the ionized gas. Al and Ca are two of the most depleted elements in the general interstellar medium, and it is therefore important to measure their abundances within the ionized region of nebulae. We compute a large grid of photoionization models and identify sets of line ratios which are relatively insensitive to stellar and nebular parameters, and are thus excellent diagnostics for determining relative abundances. Based on the absence of the [Ca II] λλ7291, 7324 doublet and the detection of Al II] λλ2660, 2669 in the ultraviolet, we determine the extent of aluminum and calcium depletion onto grains in NGC 7027 and the Orion Nebula. Our results show a ∼0.3 dex depletion for Al, but a depletion of more than two and a half orders of magnitude for Ca. A similar calculation based on Mg II λ2798 yields roughly a 0.8 dex depletion for Mg. This reaffirms the discrepancy between depletions determined from high and low ionization Mg lines. We K also find evidence for a depletion gradientin Ca in NGC 7027, since the calcium depletion we infer for the outer, more neutral regions using [Ca II] is somewhat higher than that inferred for the inner high-ionization region, using [Ca V]. This gradient can test current models of the survival of grains within hot ionized gas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-799
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1995


  • Dust, extinction
  • ISM: abundances
  • Line: profiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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