Measuring ultraviolet extinction with GALEX in overlapping galaxies

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

Dust in spiral galaxies is an all encompassing factor in star formation history, measurements of luminosity, and galaxy dynamics. To learn more about galaxy formation and the influence of dust, White & Keel 1992 formulated a direct method to estimate optical depth. In the past few years, with the aid of the Galaxy Zoo forum and its members, known as zooites, a scientifically acceptable number of galaxy pairs have been identified to create a full catalog for this particular research. The White & Keel 1992 method uses differential photometry which eliminates many of the errors that plague statistical techniques that rely on the internal structure of a galaxy to estimate optical depth. The method relies heavily on the symmetry of the galaxies that make up the pair. To fulfill the symmetry requirement of the ideal geometry, the most suitable pair consists of a foreground spiral backlit by an elliptical galaxy. As evidenced here, non-interacting visually symmetric galaxies pairs yield the best results. Observations at the WIYN telescope combined with exposures downloaded from the GALEX archive are used to estimate the optical depth in these pairs as outlined by White & Keel 1992 and additionally, to trace the star formation in UV detections. Two examples of extended dust far beyond the optical radius were observed and analyzed for extinction. In this sample of galaxies, the optical depth of each wavelength scaled to the B filter was generally constant across the wavelengths observed. The effects of clumpy dust structure in the spiral arms dominated the reddening law which likely resulted in an overestimate of the optical depth measurements.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Astronomy, Physics