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Published September 1, 1987 | Published
Journal Article Open

The IRAS bright galaxy sample. II - The sample and luminosity function


A complete sample of 324 extragalactic objects with 60 μm flux densities greater than 5.4 Jy has been selected from the IRAS catalogs. Only one of these objects can be classified morphologically as a Seyfert nucleus; the others are all galaxies. The median distance of the galaxies in the sample is ~ 30 Mpc, and the median luminosity vL,(60 μm) is ~ 2 x 10^(10) L_☉ . This infrared selected sample is much more "infrared active" than optically selected galaxy samples. The range in far-infrared luminosities of the galaxies in the sample is 10^8 L_☉ -2 x 10^(12) L_☉ The far-infrared luminosities of the sample galaxies appear to be independent of the optical luminosities, suggesting a separate luminosity component. As previously found, a correlation exists between 60 μm/100 μm flux density ratio and far-infrared luminosity. The mass of interstellar dust required to produce the far-infrared radiation corresponds to a mass of gas of 108-10^(10) M_☉ for normal gas to dust ratios. This is comparable to the mass of the interstellar medium in most galaxies. The infrared luminous galaxies are found to be an important component of extraglactic objects, being the most numerous objects in the local universe at luminosities L > 10^(11) L_☉, and producing a luminosity density of ~ that of the observed starlight in normal galaxies. Approximately 60%-80% of the far-infrared luminosity of the local universe is likely attributed to recent or ongoing star formation. If the infrared active phase (L_(FIR) > 10^(11) L_☉ ) is a nonrecurring event of duration less than 108 yr in galaxy evolution, then more than 10%, and perhaps all of the galaxies with blue luminosities greater than 10^(10) L_☉ must undergo such an event.

Additional Information

© 1987 American Astronomical Society. Received 1986 December 1; accepted 1987 February 13. It is a pleasure to thank members of the IPAC staff for assistance in assembling IRAS data, our night assistants at Palomar, Juan Carasco and Skip Staples, for assistance in obtaining the optical spectra and optical photometry, and George Helou, Paul Schechter, and Jeremy Mould for illuminating conversations. This research was supported in part by NASA through the IRAS Extended Mission program, and in part by the NSF. G. E. D. is supported by NASA contract NAS5-25451. B. F. M. is supported in part by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and by the Canada Council through a Killam fellowship. This is contribution No. 4427 of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences.

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Published - 1987ApJ___320__238S.pdf


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