HERITAGE survey of the Large Magellanic Cloud

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The first results on an extragalactic object here at ESLAB were presented this afternoon on the HERITAGE survey of the Large Magellanic Cloud – a follow-up program to a major Spitzer program to study the effects of star formation on the surrounding gas and dust in an environment that differs quite significantly from our own Galactic neighbourhood at high spatial resolution.

The HERITAGE team presented results from a central strip through the LMC that was observed as part of the Science Demonstration phase – one of the central results to emerge from this is the need for refinement of standard dust models when applied to environments such as the LMC. The harsh radiation environment, plus comparative lack of dust in the LMC leaves traditional dust models predicted too much dust – a different approach, based on modelling with amorphous carbon seems allow better constraints on the overall spectral energy distribution, especially as we move to longer wavelengths – too much dust can lead to an over-estimate of the amount of very, very cold dust (temperatures ~ 5-10 K!). There’s also tantalising hints of an over-abundance of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs – basically soot, or the stuff burnt on an overdone hamburger) co-incident with the stellar bar in the LMC – for more details, sadly, I’ll have to talk to the presenter…

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