Stellar populations in local star-forming galaxies - I. Data and modelling procedure

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Gil de Paz, Armando
Alonso Herrero, A.
Aragón Salamanca, A,
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We present an analysis of the integrated properties of the stellar populations in the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) Survey of Halpha-selected galaxies. In this paper, the first of a series, we describe in detail the techniques developed to model star-forming galaxies using a mixture of stellar populations, and taking into account the observational uncertainties. We assume a recent burst of star formation superimposed on a more evolved population. The effects of the nebular continuum, line emission and dust attenuation are taken into account. We also test different model assumptions, including the choice of specific evolutionary synthesis model, initial mass function, star formation scenario and the treatment of dust extinction. Quantitative tests are applied to determine how well these models fit our multiwavelength observations for the UCM sample. Our observations span the optical and near-infrared, including both photometric and spectroscopic data. Our results indicate that extinction plays a key role in this kind of study, revealing that low- and high-obscured objects may require very different extinction laws and must be treated differently. We also demonstrate that the UCM Survey galaxies are best described by a short burst of star formation occurring within a quiescent galaxy, rather than by continuous star formation. A detailed discussion on the inferred parameters, such as the age, burst strength, metallicity, star formation rate, extinction and total stellar mass for individual objects, is presented in Paper II of this series.
©Wiley & Sons. This paper is partially based on data from CAHA, the German-Spanish Astronomical Centre, Calar Alto, operated by the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, jointly with the Spanish National Commission for Astronomy. Also partially based on data obtained with the 2.3m Bok Telescope of the University of Arizona on Kitt Peak National Observatory, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. Also partially based on observations made with the Isaac Newton and Jacobus Kapteyn Telescopes, operated on the island of La Palma by the Isaac Newton Group in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) and the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive which are operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This publication makes use of data products from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, which is a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation. PGPG wishes to acknowledge the Spanish Ministry of Education and Culture for the reception of a Formación de Profesorado Universitario fellowship. AGdP acknowledges financial support from NASA through a Long Term Space Astrophysics grant to B.F. Madore. During the course of this work AAH has been supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration grant NAG 5-3042 through the University of Arizona and Contract 960785 through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. AAS acknowledges generous financial support from the Royal Society. We also would like to thank George and Marcia Rieke for kindly allowing us to use their near-infrared camera on the University of Arizona 2.3m Bok Telescope. We are grateful to the anonymous referee for her/his helpful comments and suggestions. The present work was supported by the Spanish Programa Nacional de Astronomía y Astrofísica under grant AYA2000-1790.
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