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The distribution of far-infrared emission from edge-on galaxies

Alton, P. B., Davies, Jonathan Ivor and Trewhella, M. 1998. The distribution of far-infrared emission from edge-on galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 296 (3) , pp. 773-784. 10.1046/j.1365-8711.1998.01488.x

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We use resolution-enhanced IRAS images (HiRes) to study the distribution of far-infrared (FIR) emission in 20 edge-on, disc galaxies. Half of our sample are selected as infrared-bright galaxies which emit most of their energy at wavelengths longer than a few mum. The remaining 10 objects are `normal' (quiescent) galaxies. The distribution of FIR emission along the major axis of the infrared-bright galaxies tends to be far more centrally concentrated than that detected in quiescent discs. Indeed, many of the infrared-bright objects are dominated by a luminous, compact or unresolved source (<3 kpc) located in the nuclear region. It is known from emission-line studies carried out in the past (Hα imaging and long-slit spectroscopy) that most of the galaxies that we have selected as infrared-bright possess an energetic outflow or `superwind', which is powered by enhanced, circumnuclear star formation. We believe, therefore, that the compact FIR emission that we have detected arises from dust enclosing the central starburst. Low-resolution radio continuum maps for the same galaxies show a striking morphological similarity to the IRAS images, confirming the presence of enhanced, recent star formation at the centre of the infrared-bright galaxies. The wider availability of higher resolution FIR images, such as HiRes, also invites an investigation into whether edge-on discs are resolved along the minor axis. In particular, we explore the possibility that the starburst-driven superwinds, present within many of our infrared-bright galaxies, are transporting dust grains out of the disc. None of the objects that we have examined (infrared-bright or quiescent) exhibits structure that can be reliably interpreted as dust outflow. Various artefacts of the HiRes data, specifically those which produce faint, spurious structure in the vicinity of bright FIR sources, ultimately constrain the sensitivity of our images to about 1 MJy sr^-1 at 60 mum. Thus, if the grains entrained in the outflow are too cold (<=15 K), we cannot expect to detect them with the present study.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Uncontrolled Keywords: dust, extinction; galaxies: active; galaxies: nuclei; galaxies: starburst; infrared: galaxies; radio continuum: galaxies
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0035-8711
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:24

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