Interpreting the star formation - extinction relation with MaNGA

Huan Li, Stijn Wuyts, Lei Hao, Lin Lin, Man I Lam, Médéric Boquien, Brett H. Andrews, Donald P. Schneider

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We investigate the resolved relation between local extinction and star formation surface density within nearby star-forming galaxies selected from the MaNGA survey. Balmer decrement measurements imply an extinction of the Hα line emission that scales approximately linearly with the logarithm of the star formation surface density: . Secondary dependencies are observed such that, at a given Σ SFR , regions of lower metallicity and/or enhanced Hα equivalent width (EW) suffer less obscuration than regions of higher metallicity and/or lower Hα EW. Spaxels lying above the mean relation also tend to belong to galaxies that are more massive, larger, and viewed under higher inclination than average. We present a simple model in which the observed trends can be accounted for by a metallicity-dependent scaling between Σ SFR and Σ dust via a superlinear Kennicutt-Schmidt relation (n KS ∼ 1.47) and a dust-to-gas ratio that scales linearly with metallicity (DGR(Z o ) = 0.01). The relation between the resulting total dust column and observed effective extinction toward nebular regions requires a geometry for the relative distribution of Hα-emitting regions and dust that deviates from a uniform foreground screen and also from an entirely homogeneous mixture of dust and emitting sources. The best-fit model features an Hα EW and galactocentric-distance-dependent fraction of the dust mass in a clumpy foreground screen in front of a homogeneous mixture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number63
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Accepted for publication in ApJ. Figures 2 and 3 show the observed star formation - extinction relation. Figures 9 and 10 show our favored model


  • astro-ph.GA
  • dust, extinction
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: ISM
  • galaxies: star formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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