The spatially resolved correlation between [NII] 205μm line emission and the 24μm continuum in nearby galaxies Journal Articles uri icon

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  • A correlation between the 24 {\mu}m continuum and the [NII] 205 {\mu}m line emission may arise if both quantities trace the star formation activity on spatially-resolved scales within a galaxy, yet has so far only been observed in the nearby edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 891. We therefore assess whether the [NII] 205 - 24 {\mu}m emission correlation has some physical origin or is merely an artefact of line-of-sight projection effects in an edge-on disc. We search for the presence of a correlation in Herschel and Spitzer observations of two nearby face-on galaxies, M51 and M83, and the interacting Antennae galaxies NGC 4038 and 4039. We show that not only is this empirical relationship also observed in face-on galaxies, but also that the correlation appears to be governed by the star formation rate (SFR). Both the nuclear starburst in M83 and the merger-induced star formation in NGC 4038/9 exhibit less [NII] emission per unit SFR surface density than the normal star-forming discs. These regions of intense star formation exhibit stronger ionization parameters, as traced by the 70/160 {\mu}m far-infrared colour, that suggest the presence of higher ionization lines that may become more important for gas cooling, thereby reducing the observed [NII] 205 {\mu}m line emission in regions with higher star formation rates. Finally, we present a general relation between the [NII] 205 {\mu}m line flux density and SFR density for normal star-forming galaxies, yet note that future studies should extend this analysis by including observations with wider spatial coverage for a larger sample of galaxies.


  • Hughes, TM
  • Baes, M
  • Schirm, MRP
  • Parkin, TJ
  • Wu, R
  • De Looze, I
  • Wilson, Christine D
  • Viaene, S
  • Bendo, GJ
  • Boselli, A
  • Cormier, D
  • Ibar, E
  • Karczewski, OŁ
  • Lu, N
  • Spinoglio, L

publication date

  • March 2016