Characterizing Dust Attenuation in Local Star-forming Galaxies: UV and Optical Reddening

February 2016 • 2016ApJ...818...13B

Authors • Battisti, A. J. • Calzetti, D. • Chary, R. -R.

Abstract • The dust attenuation for a sample of ∼10,000 local (z ≲ 0.1) star-forming galaxies is constrained as a function of their physical properties. We utilize aperture-matched multiwavelength data available from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to ensure that regions of comparable size in each galaxy are being analyzed. We follow the method of Calzetti et al. and characterize the dust attenuation through the UV power-law index, β, and the dust optical depth, which is quantified using the difference in Balmer emission line optical depth, {τ }Bl={τ }{{H}β }-{τ }{{H}α }. The observed linear relationship between β and {τ }Bl is similar to the local starburst relation, but the large scatter (σint = 0.44) suggests that there is significant variation in the local universe. We derive a selective attenuation curve over the range 1250 Å < λ < 8320 Å and find that a single attenuation curve is effective for characterizing the majority of galaxies in our sample. This curve has a slightly lower selective attenuation in the UV compared to previously determined curves. We do not see evidence to suggest that a 2175 Å feature is significant in the average attenuation curve. Significant positive correlations are seen between the amount of UV and optical reddening and galaxy metallicity, mass, star formation rate (SFR), and SFR surface density. This provides a potential tool for gauging attenuation where the stellar population is unresolved, such as at high z.


IPAC Authors

Ranga-Ram Chary

Senior Scientist