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Photoluminescence by Hydrogenated Carbon Solids in Interstellar Space

  • Adolf N. Witt (a1)

Abstract

We review the observational evidence for the widespread existence of hydrogenated carbon dust in astronomical environments. Photoluminescence by such materials appears strongly enhanced in regions where additional hydrogenation becomes possible, e.g. through the photodissociation of abundant molecular hydrogen. Recent laboratory experiments have demonstrated that rehydrogenation of previously annealed hydrogenated amorphous carbon (HAC) does indeed restore the photoluminescence, and furthermore, hydrogenation of pure amorphous carbon leads to characteristic HAC photoluminescence, which can be further enhanced by UV irradiation. Present evidence suggests that hydrogenated amorphous carbon may represent a significant fraction of the interstellar dust mass in the Milky Way Galaxy.

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