The Effects of Dust on the Ultraviolet Spectral Energy Distribution of Starburst Galaxies

Previous abstract Next abstract

Session 12 -- Starburst Galaxies
Display presentation, Monday, 30, 1994, 9:20-6:30

[12.01] The Effects of Dust on the Ultraviolet Spectral Energy Distribution of Starburst Galaxies

K. D. Gordon \& A. N. Witt (U. of Toledo)

The effects of dust on the spectral energy distribution (SED) of starburst regions of galaxies was investigated using Monte Carlo techniques to model the transport of radiation in systems where the dust and stars are mixed. In a recent paper, Calzetti, Kinney, \& Storchi-Bergmann (ApJ, 10 July 1994) derive an extinction curve from observations of starburst galaxies assuming the dust is in a screen geometry. This gives an extinction curve where the geometrical effects of mixing of the dust and stars are convolved with the extinguishing effects of the dust. The resulting extinction curve is greyer than the Galactic extinction curve and featureless in the ultraviolet, i.e. lacking both the 2200 \AA\ bump and far-UV rise.

In an attempt to explain this ``effective'' starburst extinction curve we have modeled the effects of dust on the SED of starbursts. A simple starburst model was used to determine the different populations of stars as a function of the starburst age. The flux at 23 wavelengths, ranging between 1000 \AA\ to 5500 \AA\, was computed using Monte Carlo techniques assuming the dust and stars were spherically distributed. The dust was assumed to have similar properties as dust in our Galaxy. The distribution of different star types ranged from mostly centrally located for O stars to constant density for A and later stars. In addition, the fraction of stars lying outside the dust ranged from very few for O stars to a majority for A and later stars. Combining the two models, it was found that the SED was strongly dependent on the distribution of the different types of stars relative to the dust, the age of the starburst, and the amount of dust. The ``effective'' UV extinction curve became greyer and featureless as the amount of dust was increased. For example, the 2200 \AA\ bump was almost non-existent for large amounts of dust.

This work was supported by NASA LTSA Grant NAGW-3168.

Monday program listing