We study nonlinear excitations in a lifetime-broadened Λ-type three-level atomic system with a configuration of electromagnetically induced transparency. Different from previous works, we show that a significant depletion of the control field may occur during the formation and propagation of ultraslow optical solitons for the probe field. We demonstrate that ultraslow optical solitons predicted in previous works correspond to the limits of weak dispersion and weak nonlinearity, adiabatons correspond to the limits of stronger dispersion and stronger nonlinearity, and simultons correspond to the limits of strong dispersion and strong nonlinearity. Between these different limits the system also yields solitonlike nonlinear excitations with different levels of depletion of the control field. The results provided here are useful not only for a deep understanding of the interrelation between ultraslow optical solitons, adiabatons, and simultons, but also for potential applications in optical information processing and transmission.
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