Aigen Li - University of Missouri

Aigen Li
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Aigen Li
University of Missouri
United States

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Astrophysics of Galaxies (38)
Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (12)
Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (6)
Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics (6)
High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (2)
Physics - Chemical Physics (1)

Publications Authored By Aigen Li

Dust plays a central role in the unification theory of active galactic nuclei (AGNs). Whether the dust that forms the torus around an AGN is tenth-$\mu$m-sized like interstellar grains or much larger has a profound impact on correcting for the obscuration of the dust torus to recover the intrinsic spectrum and luminosity of the AGN. Here we show that the ratio of the optical extinction in the visual band ($A_V$) to the optical depth of the 9. Read More

The unification theory of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) hypothesizes that all AGNs are surrounded by an anisotropic dust torus and are essentially the same objects but viewed from different angles. However, little is known about the dust which plays a central role in the unification theory. There are suggestions that the AGN dust extinction law appreciably differs from that of the Galaxy. Read More

For decades ever since the early detection in the 1990s of the emission spectral features of crystalline silicates in oxygen-rich evolved stars, there is a long-standing debate on whether the crystallinity of the silicate dust correlates with the stellar mass loss rate. To investigate the relation between the silicate crystallinities and the mass loss rates of evolved stars, we carry out a detailed analysis of 28 nearby oxygen-rich stars. We derive the mass loss rates of these sources by modeling their spectral energy distributions from the optical to the far infrared. Read More

We present high-resolution (0".4) mid-infrared (mid-IR) polarimetric images and spectra of WL 16, a Herbig Ae star at a distance of 125 pc. WL 16 is surrounded by a protoplanetary disk of $\sim$ 900 AU in diameter, making it one of the most extended Herbig Ae/Be disks as seen in the mid-IR. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Missouri/Xiangtan University, 2University of Missouri/Xiangtan University, 3University of Missouri/Xiangtan University

A large number of interstellar absorption features at ~ 4000\AA\ -- 1.8 {\mu}m, known as the "diffuse interstellar bands" (DIBs), remains unidentified. Most recent works relate them to large polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecules or ultrasmall carbonaceous grains which are also thought to be responsible for the 2175 \AA\ extinction bump and/or the far ultraviolet (UV) extinction rise at $\lambda^{-1} > 5. Read More

SPHEREx is a proposed SMEX mission selected for Phase A. SPHEREx will carry out the first all-sky spectral survey and provide for every 6.2" pixel a spectra between 0. Read More

We investigate the dust properties in three spectroscopically anomalous galaxies (IRAS F10398+1455, IRAS F21013-0739 and SDSS J0808+3948). Their Spitzer/IRS spectra are characterized by a steep ~5-8 micron emission continuum, strong emission bands from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecules, and prominent 10 micron silicate emission. The steep ~5-8 micron continuum and strong PAH emission features suggest the presence of starbursts, while the silicate emission is indicative of significant heating from AGNs. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Missouri/Beijing Normal University, 2University of Missouri/Beijing Normal University, 3University of Missouri/Beijing Normal University

Over two decades ago, a prominent, mysterious emission band peaking at ~20.1 micrometer was serendipitously detected in four preplanetary nebulae (PPNe; also known as "protoplanetary nebulae"). So far, this spectral feature, designated as the "21 micrometer" feature, has been seen in 18 carbon-rich PPNe. Read More

In this work we investigate the effects of ion accretion and size-dependent dust temperatures on the abundances of both gas-phase and grain-surface species. While past work has assumed a constant areal density for icy species, we show that this assumption is invalid and the chemical differentiation over grain sizes are significant. We use a gas-grain chemical code to numerically demonstrate this in two typical interstellar conditions: dark cloud (DC) and cold neutral medium (CNM). Read More

This review focuses on numerical approaches to deducing the light-scattering and thermal-emission properties of primitive dust particles in planetary systems from astronomical observations. The particles are agglomerates of small grains with sizes comparable to visible wavelength and compositions being mainly magnesium-rich silicates, iron-bearing metals, and organic refractory materials in pristine phases. These unique characteristics of primitive dust particles reflect their formation and evolution around main-sequence stars of essentially solar composition. Read More

We present infrared (IR) spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of individual star-forming regions in four extremely metal poor (EMP) galaxies with metallicity Z around Zsun/10 as observed by the Herschel Space Observatory. With the good wavelength coverage of the SED, it is found that these EMP star-forming regions show distinct SED shapes as compared to those of grand design Spirals and higher metallicity dwarfs: they have on average much higher f70um/f160um ratios at a given f160um/f250um ratio; single modified black-body (MBB) fittings to the SED at \lambda >= 100 um still reveal higher dust temperatures and lower emissivity indices compared to that of Spirals, while two MBB fittings to the full SED with a fixed emissivity index (beta = 2) show that even at 100 um about half of the emission comes from warm (50 K) dust, in contrast to the cold (~20 K) dust component. Our spatially resolved images further reveal that the far-IR colors including f70um/f160um, f160um/f250um and f250um/f350um are all related to the surface densities of young stars as traced by far-UV, 24 um and SFRs, but not to the stellar mass surface densities. Read More

Affiliations: 1Beijing Normal University, 2Beijing Normal University, 3Beijing Normal University, 4Beijing Normal University, 5Beijing Normal University, 6University of Missouri

A precise measure of the mid-infrared interstellar extinction law is crucial to the investigation of the properties of interstellar dust, especially of the grains in the large size end. Based on the stellar parameters derived from the SDSS-III/APOGEE spectroscopic survey, we select a large sample of G- and K-type giants as the tracers of the Galactic mid-infrared extinction. We calculate the intrinsic stellar color excesses from the stellar effective temperatures and use them to determine the mid-infrared extinction for a given line of sight. Read More

The pre-transitional disk around the Herbig Ae star HD 169142 shows a complex structure of possible ongoing planet formation in dust thermal emission from the near infrared (IR) to millimeter wavelength range. Also, a distinct set of broad emission features at 3.3, 6. Read More

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), as the largest space-based astronomical observatory with near- and mid-infrared instrumentation, will elucidate many mysterious aspects of comets. We summarize four cometary science themes especially suited for this telescope and its instrumentation: the drivers of cometary activity, comet nucleus heterogeneity, water ice in comae and on surfaces, and activity in faint comets and main-belt asteroids. With JWST, we can expect the most distant detections of gas, especially CO2, in what we now consider to be only moderately bright comets. Read More

The sizes of interstellar grains are widely distributed, ranging from a few angstroms to a few micrometers. The ultraviolet (UV) and optical extinction constrains the dust in the size range of a couple hundredth micrometers to several submicrometers. The near and mid infrared (IR) emission constrains the nanometer-sized grains and angstrom-sized very large molecules. Read More

The interstellar medium (ISM) seems to have a significant surplus of oxygen which was dubbed as the "O crisis": independent of the adopted interstellar reference abundance, the total number of O atoms depleted from the gas phase far exceeds that tied up in solids by as much as ~160ppm of O/H. Recently, it has been hypothesized that the missing O could be hidden in micrometer-sized H2O ice grains. We examine this hypothesis by comparing the infrared (IR) extinction and far-IR emission arising from these grains with that observed in the Galactic diffuse ISM. Read More

The mysterious "21 micrometer" emission feature seen almost exclusively in the short-lived protoplanetary nebula (PPN) phase of stellar evolution remains unidentified since its discovery two decades ago. This feature is always accompanied by the equally mysterious, unidentified "30 micrometer" feature and the so-called "unidentified infrared" (UIR) features at 3.3, 6. Read More

We probe the role of carbon in the ultraviolet (UV) extinction by examining the relations between the amount of carbon required to be locked up in dust [C/H]_dust with the 2175 Angstrom extinction bump and the far-UV extinction rise, based on an analysis of the extinction curves along 16 Galactic sightlines for which the gas-phase carbon abundance is known and the 2175 Angstrom extinction bump exhibits variable strengths and widths. We derive [C/H]_dust from the Kramers-Kronig relation which relates the wavelength-integrated extinction to the total dust volume. This approach is less model-dependent since it does not require the knowledge of the detailed optical properties and size distribution of the dust. Read More

How dust absorbs and scatters starlight as a function of wavelength (known as the interstellar extinction curve) is crucial for correcting for the effects of dust extinction in inferring the true luminosity and colors of reddened astrophysical objects. Together with the extinction spectral features, the extinction curve contains important information about the dust size distribution and composition. This review summarizes our current knowledge of the dust extinction of the Milky Way, three Local Group galaxies (i. Read More

The debris disk around the Vega-type star HD 34700 is detected in dust thermal emission from the near infrared (IR) to millimeter (mm) and submm wavelength range. Also detected is a distinct set of emission features at 3.3, 6. Read More

The \textit{Spitzer}/Infrared Spectrograph spectra of three spectroscopically anomalous galaxies (IRAS~F10398+1455, IRAS~F21013-0739 and SDSS~J0808+3948) are modeled in terms of a mixture of warm and cold silicate dust, and warm and cold carbon dust. Their unique infrared (IR) emission spectra are characterized by a steep $\simali$5--8$\mum$ emission continuum, strong emission bands from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecules, and prominent silicate emission. The steep $\simali$5--8$\mum$ emission continuum and strong PAH emission features suggest the dominance of starbursts, while the silicate emission is indicative of significant heating from active galactic nuclei (AGNs). Read More

Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are powerful cosmological "standardizable candles" and the most precise distance indicators. However, a limiting factor in their use for precision cosmology rests on our ability to correct for the dust extinction toward them. SN 2014J in the starburst galaxy M82, the closest detected SN~Ia in three decades, provides unparalleled opportunities to study the dust extinction toward an SN Ia. Read More

The spatial variations of the gas-to-dust ratio (GDR) provide constraints on the chemical evolution and lifecycle of dust in galaxies. We examine the relation between dust and gas at 10-50 pc resolution in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC) based on Herschel far-infrared (FIR), H I 21 cm, CO, and Halpha observations. In the diffuse atomic ISM, we derive the gas-to-dust ratio as the slope of the dust-gas relation and find gas-to-dust ratios of 380+250-130 in the LMC, and 1200+1600-420 in the SMC, not including helium. Read More

We present the detection and analysis of molecular hydrogen emission toward ten interstellar regions in the Large Magellanic Cloud. We examined low-resolution infrared spectral maps of twelve regions obtained with the Spitzer infrared spectrograph (IRS). The pure rotational 0--0 transitions of H$_2$ at 28. Read More

Affiliations: 1Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, 2Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, 3University of Missouri

Dust plays a central role in the unification theory of active galactic nuclei (AGNs). However, little is known about the nature (e.g. Read More

Affiliations: 1Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, 2Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, 3University of Missouri

On a galactic scale the 9.7um silicate emission is usually only seen in type 1 active galactic nuclei (AGNs). They usually also display a flat emission continuum at ~5--8um and the absence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emission bands. Read More

The dust properties in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are studied using the HERITAGE Herschel Key Project photometric data in five bands from 100 to 500 micron. Three simple models of dust emission were fit to the observations: a single temperature blackbody modified by a power- law emissivity (SMBB), a single temperature blackbody modified by a broken power-law emissivity (BEMBB), and two blackbodies with different temperatures, both modified by the same power-law emissivity (TTMBB). Using these models we investigate the origin of the submm excess; defined as the submillimeter (submm) emission above that expected from SMBB models fit to observations < 200 micron. Read More

Authors: Qi Li1, S. L. Liang2, Aigen Li3
Affiliations: 1University of Missouri, 2University of Missouri, 3University of Missouri

While it is well recognized that interstellar grains are made of amorphous silicates and some form of carbonaceous materials, it remains debated regarding what exact chemical and physical form the carbonaceous component takes. Contemporary grain models assume that the silicate and carbon components are either physically separated, or they form a core-mantle structure, or they agglomerate to form porous composites. The core-mantle model posits that the mantle is made of some sort of aliphatic hydrocarbon materials and is responsible for the 3. Read More

How dust scatters and absorbs starlight in the interstellar medium (ISM) contains important clues about the size and composition of interstellar dust. While the ultraviolet (UV) and visible interstellar extinction is well studied and can be closely fitted in terms of various dust mixtures (e.g. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Missouri/Xiangtan University, 2University of Missouri/Xiangtan University, 3University of Missouri/Xiangtan University, 4University of Missouri/Xiangtan University

The unidentified infrared emission (UIE) features at 3.3, 6.2, 7. Read More

Affiliations: 1University of Missouri/Beijing Normal University, 2University of Missouri/Beijing Normal University, 3University of Missouri/Beijing Normal University

A prominent, mysterious emission feature peaking at ~20.1 micrometer --- historically known as the ``21 micrometer' feature --- is seen in over two dozen Galactic and Magellanic Cloud carbon-rich post-asymptotic giant branch (post-AGB) stars. The nature of its carrier remains unknown since the first detection of the 21 micrometer feature in 1989. Read More

Based on the photometric data from the Spitzer/SAGE survey and with red giants as the extinction tracers, the mid-infrared (MIR) extinction laws in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) are derived for the first time in the form of A_\lambda/A_Ks, the extinction in the four IRAC bands (i.e., [3. Read More

The infrared (IR) spectra of many evolved carbon-rich stars exhibit two prominent dust emission features peaking around 21um and 30um, with the former exclusively seen in proto-planetary nebulae (PPNe), while the latter seen in a much wider range of objects, including AGB stars, PPNe and planetary nebulae (PNe). The 30um feature is seen in all the 21um sources, but no correlation is found between these two features. Over a dozen carrier candidates have been proposed for the 21um feature, but none of them has been widely accepted and the nature of the 21um feature remains a mystery. Read More

In recent years the wavelength dependence of interstellar extinction from the ultraviolet (UV), optical, through the near- and mid-infrared (IR) has been studied extensively. Although it is well established that the UV/optical extinction law varies significantly among the different lines of sight, it is not clear how the IR extinction varies among various environments. In this work, using the color-excess method and taking red giants as the extinction tracer, we determine the interstellar extinction Alambda in the four Spitzer/IRAC bands of the Coalsack nebula, a nearby starless dark cloud, based on the data obtained from the 2MASS and Spitzer/GLIMPSE surveys. Read More

We model the ~1--19$\mum$ infrared (IR) extinction curve toward the Galactic Center (GC) in terms of the standard silicate-graphite interstellar dust model. The grains are taken to have a power law size distribution with an exponential decay above some size. The best-fit model for the GC IR extinction constrains the visual extinction to be Av~38--42 mag. Read More

We perform a survey of the Cr, Mn and Fe-K emission lines in young supernova remnants (SNRs) with the Japanese X-ray astronomy satellite {\sl Suzaku}. The Cr and/or Mn emission lines are detected in 3C\,397 and 0519-69.0 for the first time. Read More

We report the Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) observations of three evolved stars: IRAS 16456-3542, 18354-0638, and 23239+5754. The 9.9--37. Read More

Nanodust, which undergoes stochastic heating by single starlight photons in the interstellar medium, ranges from angstrom-sized large molecules containing tens to thousands of atoms (e.g. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules) to grains of a couple tens of nanometers. Read More

We study the emission by dust and stars in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, a pair of low-metallicity nearby galaxies, as traced by their spatially resolved spectral energy distributions (SEDs). This project combines Herschel Space Observatory PACS and SPIRE far-infrared photometry with other data at infrared and optical wavelengths. We build maps of dust and stellar luminosity and mass of both Magellanic Clouds, and analyze the spatial distribution of dust/stellar luminosity and mass ratios. Read More

The first detection of the silicate absorption feature in AGNs was made at 9.7 micrometer for the prototypical Seyfert 2 galaxy NGC 1068 over 30 years ago, indicating the presence of a large column of silicate dust in the line-of-sight to the nucleus. It is now well recognized that type 2 AGNs exhibit prominent silicate absorption bands, while the silicate bands of type 1 AGNs appear in emission. Read More

The distinctive set of infrared (IR) emission bands at 3.3, 6.2, 7. Read More


The diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) are ubiquitous absorption spectral features arising from the tenuous material in the space between stars -- the interstellar medium (ISM). Since their first detection nearly nine decades ago, over 400 DIBs have been observed in the visible and near-infrared wavelength range in both the Milky Way and external galaxies, both nearby and distant. However, the identity of the species responsible for these bands remains as one of the most enigmatic mysteries in astrophysics. Read More