The Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury. VI. the reliability of far-ultraviolet flux as a star formation tracer on subkiloparsec scales

Jacob E. Simones, Daniel R. Weisz, Evan D. Skillman, Eric F. Bell, Luciana Bianchi, Julianne J. Dalcanton, Andrew E. Dolphin, Benjamin D. Johnson, Benjamin F. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

We have used optical observations of resolved stars from the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury to measure the recent (<500 Myr) star formation histories (SFHs) of 33 far-UV (FUV)-bright regions in M31. The region areas ranged from ∼104 to 106 pc2, which allowed us to test the reliability of FUV flux as a tracer of recent star formation on subkiloparsec scales. The star formation rates (SFRs) derived from the extinction-corrected observed FUV fluxes were, on average, consistent with the 100 Myr mean SFRs of the SFHs to within the 1σ scatter. Overall, the scatter was larger than the uncertainties in the SFRs and particularly evident among the smallest regions. The scatter was consistent with an even combination of discrete sampling of the initial mass function and high variability in the SFHs. This result demonstrates the importance of satisfying both the full-IMF and the constant-SFR assumptions for obtaining precise SFR estimates from FUV flux. Assuming a robust FUV extinction correction, we estimate that a factor of 2.5 uncertainty can be expected in FUV-based SFRs for regions smaller than 105 pc2 or a few hundred parsecs. We also examined ages and masses derived from UV flux under the common assumption that the regions are simple stellar populations (SSPs). The SFHs showed that most of the regions are not SSPs, and the age and mass estimates were correspondingly discrepant from the SFHs. For those regions with SSP-like SFHs, we found mean discrepancies of 10 Myr in age and a factor of 3-4 in mass. It was not possible to distinguish the SSP-like regions from the others based on integrated FUV flux.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume788
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 10 2014

Keywords

  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: individual (M31)
  • galaxies: photometry
  • galaxies: star formation
  • galaxies: stellar content

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