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Published July 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

The central region of spiral galaxies as seen by Herschel: M 81, M 99, and M 100


With appropriate spatial resolution, images of spiral galaxies in thermal infrared (~10 μm and beyond) often reveal a bright central component, distinct from the stellar bulge, superimposed on a disk with prominent spiral arms. ISO and Spitzer studies have shown that much of the scatter in the mid-infrared colors of spiral galaxies is related to changes in the relative importance of these two components, rather than to other modifications, such as the morphological type or star formation rate, that affect the properties of the galaxy as a whole. With the Herschel imaging capability from 70 to 500 μm, we revisit this two-component approach at longer wavelengths, to see if it still provides a working description of the brightness distribution of galaxies, and to determine its implications on the interpretation of global far-infrared properties of galaxies. We quantify the luminosity of the central component by both a decomposition of the radial surface brightness profile and a direct extraction in 2D. We find the central component contribution is variable within the three galaxies in our sample, possibly connected more directly to the presence of a bar than to the morphological type. The central component's relative contribution is at its maximum in the mid-infrared range and drops around 160 μm to reach a constant value beyond 200 μm. The central component contains a greater fraction of hot dust than the disk component, and while the colors of the central components are scattered, colors of the disk components are more homogenous from one galaxy to the next.

Additional Information

© 2010 ESO. Received 30 March 2010, Accepted 20 April 2010, Published online 16 July 2010. Herschel is an ESA space observatory with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia and with significant participation from NASA. SPIRE has been developed by a consortium of institutes led by Cardiff University (UK) and including Univ. Lethbridge (Canada); NAOC (China); CEA, OAMP (France); IFSI, Univ. Padua (Italy); IAC (Spain); Stockholm Observatory (Sweden); Imperial College London, RAL, UCLMSSL, UKATC, Univ. Sussex (UK); and Caltech/JPL, IPAC, Univ. Colorado (USA). This development has been supported by national funding agencies: CSA (Canada); NAOC (China); CEA, CNES, CNRS (France); ASI (Italy); MCINN (Spain); Stockholm Observatory (Sweden); STFC (UK); and NASA (USA). PACS has been developed by a consortium of institutes led by MPE (Germany) and including UVIE (Austria); KUL, CSL, IMEC (Belgium); CEA, OAMP (France); MPIA (Germany); IFSI, OAP/AOT, OAA/CAISMI, 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 (Italy), and CICT/MCT (Spain). This research has made use of HIPE, a joint development by the Herschel Science Ground Segment Consortium, consisting of ESA, the NASA Herschel Science Center, and the HIFI, PACS and SPIRE consortia, and of the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, under contract with NASA.

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