Cool dust heating and temperature mixing in nearby star-forming galaxies Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Physical conditions of the interstellar medium in galaxies are closely linked to the ambient radiation field and the heating of dust grains. In order to characterize dust properties in galaxies over a wide range of physical conditions, we present here the radial surface brightness profiles of the entire sample of 61 galaxies from Key Insights into Nearby Galaxies: Far-Infrared Survey with Herschel (KINGFISH). The main goal of our work is the characterization of the grain emissivities, dust temperatures, and interstellar radiation fields responsible for heating the dust. After fitting the dust and stellar radial profiles with exponential functions, we fit the far-infrared spectral energy distribution (SED) in each annular region with single-temperature modified black bodies using both variable (MBBV) and fixed (MBBF) emissivity indices beta, as well as with physically motivated dust models. Results show that while most SED parameters decrease with radius, the emissivity index beta also decreases with radius in some galaxies, but in others is increasing, or rising in the inner regions and falling in the outer ones. Despite the fixed grain emissivity (average beta~ 2.1) of the physically-motivated models, they are well able to accommodate flat spectral slopes with beta<= 1. We find that flatter slopes (beta<= 1.5) are associated with cooler temperatures, contrary to what would be expected from the usual Tdust-beta degeneracy. This trend is related to variations in Umin since beta and Umin are very closely linked over the entire range in Umin sampled by the KINGFISH galaxies: low Umin is associated with flat beta<=1. Both these results strongly suggest that the low apparent \beta values (flat slopes) in MBBV fits are caused by temperature mixing along the line-of-sight, rather than by intrinsic variations in grain properties. Abstract truncated for arXiv.


  • Hunt, LK
  • Draine, BT
  • Bianchi, S
  • Gordon, KD
  • Aniano, G
  • Calzetti, D
  • Dale, DA
  • Helou, G
  • Hinz, JL
  • Kennicutt, RC
  • Roussel, H
  • Wilson, Christine D
  • Bolatto, A
  • Boquien, M
  • Croxall, KV
  • Galametz, M
  • Gil de Paz, A
  • Koda, J
  • Muñoz-Mateos, JC
  • Sandstrom, KM
  • Sauvage, M
  • Vigroux, L
  • Zibetti, S

publication date

  • April 2015