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Near-infrared mass-to-light ratios in galaxies - Stellar mass and star formation in the heart of the Whirlpool
Thronson, Harley A., Jr.; Greenhouse, Matthew A.
AA(Wyoming Infrared Observatory, Laramie), AB(Wyoming Infrared Observatory, Laramie)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 327, April 15, 1988, p. 671-679. (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
NASA/STI Keywords:
Galactic Nuclei, Mass To Light Ratios, Near Infrared Radiation, Photometry, Solar Neighborhood, Star Formation Rate, Cosmic Gases, Early Stars, Milky Way Galaxy, Red Giant Stars, Stellar Mass
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The authors have derived a near-infrared mass-to-light ratio for galaxies, using the local solar neighborhood as a model and applied it to J, H, and K images of the central 2.3 kpc of the Whirlpool (M51, NGC 5194). Comparison with stellar masses determined primarily from rotation curves shows good agreement. The authors believe that this agreement is a consequence of the domination of near-infrared light by low- to moderate-mass red giants, which should effectively trace the location and abundance of low-mass main-sequence stars. The derived mass-to-light ratio may be applicable to a wide variety of galaxies. The authors find that the near-infrared appearance of M51 is nearly identical in all three passbands, with a distinct elliptical shape. From far-infrared photometry, they estimate that the present star formation rate in the central 2.3 kpc of the galaxy is ≡4 M_sun;yr-1. The authors conclude that, although the center of M51 is quite bright over a wide range of wavelengths, star formation is proceeding quite normally.

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