Dust evolution processes constrained by extinction curves in nearby galaxies

Kuan Chou Hou, Hiroyuki Hirashita, Michał J. Michałowski

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20 Scopus citations


Extinction curves, especially those in the Milky Way (MW), the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), have provided us with a clue to the dust properties in the nearby Universe. We examine whether or not these extinction curves can be explained by well-known dust evolution processes. We treat the dust production in stellar ejecta, destruction in supernova shocks, dust growth by accretion and coagulation, and dust disruption by shattering. To make a survey of the large parameter space possible, we simplify the treatment of the grain size distribution evolution by adopting the “two-size approximation,” in which we divide the grain population into small (≲0.03 μm) and large (≳0.03 μm) grains. It is confirmed that the MW extinction curve can be reproduced in reasonable ranges for the time-scale of the above processes with a silicate–graphite mixture. This indicates that the MW extinction curve is a natural consequence of the dust evolution through the above processes. We also find that the same models fail to reproduce the SMC/LMC extinction curves. Nevertheless, this failure can be remedied by giving higher supernova destruction rates for small dust particles dust and considering amorphous carbon for carbonaceous dust; these modifications in fact fall in line with previous studies. Therefore, we conclude that the current dust evolution scenario composed of the aforementioned processes is successful in explaining the extinction curves. All the extinction curves favor efficient interstellar processing of dust, especially strong grain growth by accretion and coagulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number94
JournalPublication of the Astronomical Society of Japan
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Dust, extinction
  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxy: evolution
  • Magellanic Clouds
  • Methods: analytical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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