The Role of Star Formation and an AGN in Dust Heating of z = 0.3-2.8 Galaxies. I. Evolution with Redshift and Luminosity

November 2015 • 2015ApJ...814....9K

Authors • Kirkpatrick, Allison • Pope, Alexandra • Sajina, Anna • Roebuck, Eric • Yan, Lin • Armus, Lee • Díaz-Santos, Tanio • Stierwalt, Sabrina

Abstract • We characterize infrared spectral energy distributions of 343 (ultra)luminous infrared galaxies from z = 0.3-2.8. We diagnose the presence of an active galactic nucleus (AGN) by decomposing individual Spitzer mid-IR spectroscopy into emission from star formation and an AGN-powered continuum; we classify sources as star-forming galaxies (SFGs), AGNs, or composites. Composites comprise 30% of our sample and are prevalent at faint and bright S24, making them an important source of IR AGN emission. We combine spectroscopy with multiwavelength photometry, including Herschel imaging, to create three libraries of publicly available templates (2-1000 μm). We fit the far-IR emission using a two-temperature modified blackbody to measure cold and warm dust temperatures (Tc and Tw). We find that Tc does not depend on mid-IR classification, while Tw shows a notable increase as the AGN grows more luminous. We measure a quadratic relationship between mid-IR AGN emission and total AGN contribution to LIR. AGNs, composites, and SFGs separate in S8/S3.6 and S250/S24, providing a useful diagnostic for estimating relative amounts of these sources. We estimate that >40% of IR-selected samples host an AGN, even at faint selection thresholds (S24 > 100 μJy). Our decomposition technique and color diagnostics are relevant given upcoming observations with the James Webb Space Telescope.


IPAC Authors


Lee Armus

Senior Scientist