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Title:
Dust extinction of the stellar continua in starburst galaxies: The ultraviolet and optical extinction law
Authors:
Calzetti, Daniela; Kinney, Anne L.; Storchi-Bergmann, Thaisa
Affiliation:
AA(Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD, US), AB(Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD, US), AC(Universidade Federal Rio, Grande do Sul, Brazil)
Publication:
The Astrophysical Journal, vol. 429, no. 2, pt. 1, p. 582-601 (ApJ Homepage)
Publication Date:
07/1994
Category:
Astrophysics
Origin:
STI
NASA/STI Keywords:
Astronomical Models, Continuums, Distribution Functions, Interplanetary Dust, Interstellar Extinction, Metallicity, Spectra, Spectral Energy Distribution, Starburst Galaxies, Ultraviolet Spectra, Analytic Functions, Apertures, Average, Calibrating, Derivation, Extraction, Iue, Numerical Analysis, Optimization, Photometry
DOI:
10.1086/174346
Bibliographic Code:
1994ApJ...429..582C

Abstract

We analyze the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) UV and the optical spectra of 39 starburst and blue compact galaxies in order to study the average properties of dust extinction in extended regions of galaxies. The optical spectra have been obtained using an aperture which matches that of IUE, so comparable regions within each galaxy are sampled. The data from the 39 galaxies are compared with five models for the geometrical distribution of dust, adopting as extinction laws both the Milky Way and the Large Magellanic Cloud laws. The commonly used uniform dust screen is included among the models. We find that none of the five models is in satisfactory agreement with the data. In order to understand the discrepancy between the data and the models, we have derived an extinction law directly from the data in the UV and optical wavelength range. The resulting curve is characterized by an overall slope which is more gray than the Milky Way extinction law's slope, and by the absence of the 2175 A dust feature. Remarkably, the difference in optical depth between the Balmer emission lines Halpha and Hbeta is about a factor of 2 larger than the difference in the optical depth between the continuum underlying the two Balmer lines. We interpret this discrepancy as a consequence of the fact that the hot ionizing stars are associated with dustier regions than the cold stellar population is. The absence of the 2175 A dust feature can be due either to the effects of the scattering and clumpiness of the dust or to a chemical composition different from that of the Milky Way dust grains. Disentangling the two interpretations is not easy because of the complexity of the spatial distribution of the emitting regions. The extinction law of the UV and optical spectral continua of extended regions can be applied to the spectra of medium- and high-redshift galaxies, where extended regions of a galaxy are, by necessity, sampled.

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