A Caltech Library Service

A Herschel view of the far-infrared properties of submillimetre galaxies

Magnelli, B. and Capak, P. (2012) A Herschel view of the far-infrared properties of submillimetre galaxies. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 539 . Art. No. A155. ISSN 0004-6361. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201118312.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


We study a sample of 61submillimetre galaxies (SMGs) selected from ground-based surveys, with known spectroscopic redshifts and observed with the Herschel Space Observatory as part of the PACS Evolutionary Probe (PEP) and the Herschel Multi-tiered Extragalactic Survey (HerMES) guaranteed time key programmes. Our study makes use of the broad far-infrared and submillimetre wavelength coverage (100−600  μm) only made possible by the combination of observations from the PACS and SPIRE instruments aboard the Herschel Space Observatory. Using a power-law temperature distribution model to derive infrared luminosities and dust temperatures, we measure a dust emissivity spectral index for SMGs of β = 2.0 ± 0.2. Our results unambiguously unveil the diversity of the SMG population. Some SMGs exhibit extreme infrared luminosities of ~10^(13) L_⊙ and relatively warm dust components, while others are fainter (a few times 10^(12) L_⊙) and are biased towards cold dust temperatures. Although at z~2 classical SMGs (>5 mJy at 850   μm) have large infrared luminosities (~10^(13) L_⊙ ), objects only selected on their submm flux densities (without any redshift informations) probe a large range in dust temperatures and infrared luminosities. The extreme infrared luminosities of some SMGs (L_IR ≳ 10^(12.7) L_⊙, 26/61 systems) imply star formation rates (SFRs) of >500 M_⊙ yr^(-1) (assuming a Chabrier IMF and no dominant AGN contribution to the FIR luminosity). Such high SFRs are difficult to reconcile with a secular mode of star formation, and may instead correspond to a merger-driven stage in the evolution of these galaxies. Another observational argument in favour of this scenario is the presence of dust temperatures warmer than that of SMGs of lower luminosities (~40 K as opposed to ~25 K), consistent with observations of local ultra-luminous infrared galaxies triggered by major mergers and with results from hydrodynamic simulations of major mergers combined with radiative transfer calculations. Moreover, we find that luminous SMGs are systematically offset from normal star-forming galaxies in the stellar mass-SFR plane, suggesting that they are undergoing starburst events with short duty cycles, compatible with the major merger scenario. On the other hand, a significant fraction of the low infrared luminosity SMGs have cold dust temperatures, are located close to the main sequence of star formation, and therefore might be evolving through a secular mode of star formation. However, the properties of this latter population, especially their dust temperature, should be treated with caution because at these luminosities SMGs are not a representative sample of the entire star-forming galaxy population.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Magnelli, B.0000-0002-6777-6490
Capak, P.0000-0003-3578-6843
Additional Information:© 2012 ESO. Article published by EDP Sciences. Received 21 October 2011; Accepted 30 January 2012. We thank the anonymous referee for suggestions which greatly enhanced this work.We thank C. Hayward for providing us with his simulated SEDs. PACS has been developed by a consortium of institutes led by MPE (Germany) and including UVIE (Austria); KU Leuven, CSL, IMEC (Belgium); CEA, LAM (France); MPIA (Germany); INAF-IFSI/OAA/OAP/OAT, LENS, SISSA (Italy); IAC (Spain). This development has been supported by the funding agencies BMVIT (Austria), ESA-PRODEX (Belgium), CEA/CNES (France), DLR (Germany), ASI/INAF (Italy), and CICYT/MCYT (Spain). SPIRE has been developed by a consortium of institutes led by Cardiff University (UK) and including University of Lethbridge (Canada), NAOC (China), CEA, LAM (France), IFSI, University of Padua (Italy), IAC (Spain), Stockholm Observatory (Sweden), Imperial College London, RAL, UCL-MSSL, UKATC, University of Sussex (UK), Caltech, JPL, NHSC, University of Colorado (USA). This development has been supported by national funding agencies: CSA (Canada); NAOC (China); CEA, CNES, CNRS (France); ASI (Italy); MCINN (Spain); SNSB (Sweden); STFC, UKSA (UK) and NASA (USA). The SPIRE data presented in this paper will be released through the Herschel Database in Marseille HeDaM ( acknowledge support from the Science and Technology Facilities Council [grant number ST/F002858/1] and [grant number ST/I000976/1]. This study is based on observations made with ESO telescopes at the Paranal and Atacama Observatories under programme numbers: 171.A-3045, 168.A-0485, 082.A-0890 and 183.A-0666. Herschel is an ESA space observatory with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia and with important participation from NASA.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Science and Technology Facilities CouncilST/F002858/1
Science and Technology Facilities CouncilST/I000976/1
Subject Keywords:galaxies: evolution; infrared: galaxies; galaxies: starburst; submillimeter: galaxies
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120612-133308323
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:A Herschel view of the far-infrared properties of submillimetre galaxies B. Magnelli, D. Lutz, P. Santini, A. Saintonge, S. Berta, M. Albrecht, B. Altieri, P. Andreani, H. Aussel, F. Bertoldi, M. Béthermin, A. Bongiovanni, P. Capak, S. Chapman, J. Cepa, A. Cimatti, A. Cooray, E. Daddi, A. L. R. Danielson, H. Dannerbauer, J. S. Dunlop, D. Elbaz, D. Farrah, N. M. Förster Schreiber, R. Genzel, H. S. Hwang, E. Ibar, R. J. Ivison, E. Le Floc’h, G. Magdis, R. Maiolino, R. Nordon, S. J. Oliver, A. Pérez García, A. Poglitsch, P. Popesso, F. Pozzi, L. Riguccini, G. Rodighiero, D. Rosario, I. Roseboom, M. Salvato, M. Sanchez-Portal, D. Scott, I. Smail, E. Sturm, A. M. Swinbank, L. J. Tacconi, I. Valtchanov, L. Wang and S. Wuyts A&A 539 A155 (2012) DOI:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:31884
Deposited On:12 Jun 2012 21:40
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 20:01

Repository Staff Only: item control page