A unified representation of gas-phase element depletions in the interstellar medium.
Abstract (from CDS):
A study of gas-phase element abundances reported in the literature for 17 different elements sampled over 243 sight lines in the local part of our Galaxy reveals that the depletions into solid form (dust grains) are extremely well characterized by trends that employ only three kinds of parameters. One is an index that describes the overall level of depletion applicable to the gas in any particular sight line, and the other two represent linear coefficients that describe how to derive each element's depletion from this sight-line parameter. The information from this study reveals the relative proportions of different elements that are incorporated into dust at different stages of grain growth. An extremely simple scheme is proposed for deriving the dust contents and metallicities of absorption-line systems that are seen in the spectra of distant quasars or the optical afterglows of gamma-ray bursts. Contrary to presently accepted thinking, the elements sulfur and krypton appear to show measurable changes in their depletions as the general levels of depletions of other elements increase, although more data are needed to ascertain whether or not these findings are truly compelling. Nitrogen appears to show no such increase. The incorporation of oxygen into solid form in the densest gas regions far exceeds the amounts that can take the form of silicates or metallic oxides; this conclusion is based on differential measurements of depletion and thus is unaffected by uncertainties in the solar abundance reference scale.
ISM: abundances - ISM: atoms - ultraviolet: ISM