Mid-infrared spectroscopy of carbon stars in the small magellanic cloud

G. C. Sloan*, K. E. Kraemer, M. Matsuura, P. R. Wood, S. D. Price, M. P. Egan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    72 Citations (Scopus)


    We have observed a sample of 36 objects in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) with the Infrared Spectrometer on the Spitzer Space Telescope. Nineteen of these sources are carbon stars. An examination of the near- and mid-infrared photometry shows that the carbon-rich and oxygen-rich dust sources follow two easily separated sequences. A comparison of the spectra of the 19 carbon stars in the SMC to spectra from the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) of carbon stars in the Galaxy reveals significant differences. The absorption bands at 7.5 and 13.7 μm due to C2H2 are stronger in the SMC sample, and the SiC dust emission feature at 11.3 μm is weaker. Our measurements of the MgS dust emission feature at 26-30 μm are less conclusive, but this feature appears to be weaker in the SMC sample as well. All of these results are consistent with the lower metallicity in the SMC. The lower abundance of SiC grains in the SMC may result in less efficient carbon-rich dust production, which could explain the excess C2H2 gas seen in the spectra. The sources in the SMC with the strongest SiC dust emission tend to have redder infrared colors than the other sources in the sample, which implies more amorphous carbon, and they also tend to show stronger MgS dust emission. The weakest SiC emission features tend to be shifted to the blue; these spectra may arise from low-density shells with large SiC grains.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1118-1130
    Number of pages13
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number2 I
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2006


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