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Should we believe the results of ultraviolet–millimetre galaxy spectral energy distribution modelling?

Hayward, Christopher C. and Smith, Daniel J. B. (2015) Should we believe the results of ultraviolet–millimetre galaxy spectral energy distribution modelling? Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 446 (2). pp. 1512-1535. ISSN 0035-8711.

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Galaxy spectral energy distribution (SED) modelling is a powerful tool, but constraining how well it is able to infer the true values for galaxy properties (e.g. the star formation rate) is difficult because independent determinations are often not available. However, galaxy simulations can provide a means of testing SED modelling techniques. Here, we present a numerical experiment in which we apply the SED modelling code MAGPHYS to ultraviolet–millimetre synthetic photometry generated from hydrodynamical simulations of an isolated disc galaxy and a major galaxy merger by performing three-dimensional dust radiative transfer. We compare the properties inferred from the SED modelling with the true values and find that MAGPHYS recovers most physical parameters of the simulated galaxies well. In particular, it recovers consistent parameters irrespective of the viewing angle, with smoothly varying results for neighbouring time steps of the simulation, even though each viewing angle and time step is modelled independently. The notable exception to this rule occurs when we use a Small Magellanic Cloud-type intrinsic dust extinction curve in the radiative transfer calculations. In this case, the two-component dust model used by MAGPHYS is unable to effectively correct for the attenuation of the simulated galaxies, which leads to potentially significant errors (although we obtain only marginally acceptable fits in this case). Overall, our results give confidence in the ability of SED modelling to infer physical properties of galaxies, albeit with some caveats.

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Hayward, Christopher C.0000-0003-4073-3236
Additional Information:© 2014 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2014 October 20. Received 2014 September 22; in original form 2014 July 18. First published online November 20, 2014. We are very grateful to the anonymous referee, Elisabete da Cunha, Matt Jarvis, and Kate Rowlands for detailed comments on the manuscript. We thank Lauranne Lanz, Michał Michałowski, and Rüdiger Pakmor for useful discussions and Volker Springel for providing the non-public version of GADGET-3 used for this work. CCH acknowledges the hospitality of the Aspen Center for Physics, which is supported by the National Science Foundation grant no. PHY-1066293, and the Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire, and he is grateful to the Klaus Tschira Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for financial support. DJBS acknowledges the hospitality of the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies. This research has made use of NASA’s Astrophysics Data System Bibliographic Services.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
University of Hertfordshire Centre for AstrophysicsUNSPECIFIED
Klaus Tschira FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:radiative transfer; dust, extinction; galaxies: fundamental parameters; galaxies: ISM; galaxies: stellar content; infrared: galaxies
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150403-084939524
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Official Citation:Christopher C. Hayward and Daniel J. B. Smith Should we believe the results of ultraviolet–millimetre galaxy spectral energy distribution modelling? MNRAS (January 11, 2015) Vol. 446 1512-1535 doi:10.1093/mnras/stu2195 First published online November 20, 2014
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:56331
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:03 Apr 2015 19:42
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 08:13

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