Document Type



Dust grains are nucleation centers and catalysts for the growth of icy mantles in quiescent interstellar clouds, the products of which may accumulate into preplanetary matter when new stars and solar systems form within the clouds. In this paper, we present the first spectroscopic detections of silicate dust and the molecular ices H2O, CO, and CO2 in the vicinity of the prestellar core L183 (L134N). An infrared photometric survey of the cloud was used to identify reddened background stars, and we present spectra covering solid-state absorption features in the wavelength range 2-20 μm for nine of them. The mean composition of the ices in the best-studied line of sight (toward J15542044–0254073) is H2O:CO:CO2 ≈ 100:40:24. The ices are amorphous in structure, indicating that they have been maintained at low temperature (lesssim 15 K) since formation. The ice column density N(H2O) correlates with reddening by dust, exhibiting a threshold effect that corresponds to the transition from unmantled grains in the outer layers of the cloud to ice-mantled grains within, analogous to that observed in other dark clouds. A comparison of results for L183 and the Taurus and IC 5146 dark clouds suggests common behavior, with mantles first appearing in each case at a dust column corresponding to a peak optical depth τ9.7 = 0.15 ± 0.03 in the silicate feature. Our results support a previous conclusion that the color excess E J – K does not obey a simple linear correlation with the total dust column in lines of sight that intercept dense clouds. The most likely explanation is a systematic change in the optical properties of the dust as the density increases.

Publication Date

August 2013

Publication Title

The Astrophysical Journal





First Page


Last Page