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Measuring galaxy star formation rates from integrated photometry: insights from color-magnitude diagrams of resolved stars

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2013-07-20
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We use empirical star formation histories (SFHs), measured from Hubble-Space-Telescope-based resolved star color-magnitude diagrams, as input into population synthesis codes to model the broadband spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of 50 nearby dwarf galaxies (6.5 < log M_*/M_☉ < 8.5, with metallicities ~10% solar). In the presence of realistic SFHs, we compare the modeled and observed SEDs from the ultraviolet (UV) through near-infrared and assess the reliability of widely used UV-based star formation rate (SFR) indicators. In the FUV through i bands, we find that the observed and modeled SEDs are in excellent agreement. In the Spitzer 3.6 μm and 4.5 μm bands, we find that modeled SEDs systematically overpredict observed luminosities by up to ~0.2 dex, depending on treatment of the TP-AGB stars in the synthesis models. We assess the reliability of UV luminosity as a SFR indicator, in light of independently constrained SFHs. We find that fluctuations in the SFHs alone can cause factor of ~2 variations in the UV luminosities relative to the assumption of a constant SFH over the past 100 Myr. These variations are not strongly correlated with UV-optical colors, implying that correcting UV-based SFRs for the effects of realistic SFHs is difficult using only the broadband SED. Additionally, for this diverse sample of galaxies, we find that stars older than 100 Myr can contribute from <5%-100% of the present day UV luminosity, highlighting the challenges in defining a characteristic star formation timescale associated with UV emission. We do find a relationship between UV emission timescale and broadband UV-optical color, though it is different than predictions based on exponentially declining SFH models. Our findings have significant implications for the comparison of UV-based SFRs across low-metallicity populations with diverse SFHs.
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© 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Artículo firmado por 12 autores. Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. These observations are associated with programs 9771, 9884, 10210, 10503, 10605, 10915, and 11986. We gratefully acknowledge NASA's support for construction, operation, and science analysis for the GALEX mission, developed in cooperation with the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales of France and the Korean Ministry of Science and Technology. This work is based in part on observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with NASA. This research has made extensive use of NASA's Astrophysics Data System Bibliographic Services. This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database, which is operated by JPL/Caltech, under contract with NASA.Funding for SDSS-III has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Participating Institutions, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The SDSS-III Web site is http://www.sdss3.org/.SDSS-III is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions of the SDSS-III Collaboration including the University of Arizona, the Brazilian Participation Group, Brookhaven National Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Florida, the French Participation Group, the German Participation Group, Harvard University, the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, the Michigan State/Notre Dame/JINA Participation Group, Johns Hopkins University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, New Mexico State University, New York University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Portsmouth, Princeton University, the Spanish Participation Group, University of Tokyo, University of Utah, Vanderbilt University, University of Virginia, University of Washington, and Yale University.
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