Journal Article

The librational band of water ice in AFGL 961: revisited

R. G. Smith and C. M. Wright

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 414, issue 4, pages 3764-3768
Published in print July 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The librational band of water ice in AFGL 961: revisited

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Of all the water ice absorption bands seen in the laboratory, the librational band near 12–13 μ m has proven the most difficult to conclusively identify in observational spectra. Cox reported the detection of this band in the IRAS spectrum of the massive protostar AFGL 961 near 13.6 μ m; however, the details of the structure of the band were limited by the quality of the IRAS spectrum and the accuracy of the subtracted silicate absorption. AFGL 961 is also a double system comprising two point-like components separated by ∼6 arcsec (AFGL 961E and AFGL 961W) so the IRAS aperture included both components – it is unclear how the combination of the intrinsic spectra of these two sources may have affected the resultant IRAS spectrum. In this paper we report Spitzer and European Southern Observatory (ESO) 3.6-m mid-infrared spectroscopic observations of each component of AFGL 961. We find a broad absorption feature near 13.1 μ m common to both AFGL 961E and W. The profile and peak wavelength of this feature are well matched by the laboratory spectrum of the librational band of amorphous H2O ice in the temperature range 10–30 K, in agreement with the Cox result. Both AFGL 961E and W also have strong CO2 ice absorption near 15.2 μ m, indistinguishable in profile between the two. However, AFGL 961E shows silicates in absorption near 9.7 μ m, while AFGL 961W shows polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in emission and, in a small aperture, also silicates in emission. Uncertainty in where the true continuum lies in the 8–13 μ m spectral region for both AFGL 961E and W means we cannot rule out the possibility that a combination of silicate emission and absorption could be responsible for at least some of the features we see in this region. In this case, a much weaker librational band could still be present, but not as a distinct feature. In either case, the ice must be located in a cool, outer envelope surrounding both stars or a cool foreground cloud, far enough away that the ice is not appreciably modified by the local environment of either one.

Keywords: stars: formation; stars: individual: AFGL 961; dust, extinction; ISM: lines and bands; ISM: molecules; infrared: ISM

Journal Article.  3766 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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