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The rate of star formation in normal disk galaxies
Kennicutt, R. C., Jr.
AA(Minnesota, University, Minneapolis, MN)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 272, Sept. 1, 1983, p. 54-67. (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Disk Galaxies, Galactic Evolution, Spiral Galaxies, Star Formation, Stellar Spectrophotometry, Emission Spectra, Galactic Structure, H Alpha Line, Interstellar Gas, Photoionization, Star Distribution, Star Formation Rate, Stellar Models, Ubv Spectra
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Photometry of the integrated Halpha emission in a large sample of field spiral and irregular galaxies has been used to obtain quantitative estimates of the total star formation rate (SFR) in the galaxies. The photoionization properties of a stellar population have been modeled for a variety of choices for the initial mass function (IMF). Excellent agreement with the observed galaxy colors and Halpha emission is obtained with models using an IMF slope close to Salpeter's original value. The extinction-corrected star formation rates are large, as high as 20 M_sun; yr-1 in giant Sc galaxies. The current rates in late-type galaxies are comparable to the past rates averaged over the age of the disk. Little evidence is found for a strong correlation between the SFR and average gas density. Comparison of the present SFRs with the remaining supply of interstellar gas yields consumption time scales of only a few times 109 years in most cases.

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