Towards universal hybrid star formation rate estimators

M. Boquien, R. Kennicutt, D. Calzetti, D. Dale, M. Galametz, M. Sauvage, K. Croxall, B. Draine, A. Kirkpatrick, N. Kumari, L. Hunt, I. De Looze, E. Pellegrini, M. Relaño, J. D. Smith, F. Tabatabaei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Context. To compute the star formation rate (SFR) of galaxies from the rest-frame ultraviolet (UV), it is essential to take the obscuration by dust into account. To do so, one of the most popular methods consists in combining the UV with the emission from the dust itself in the infrared (IR). Yet, different studies have derived different estimators, showing that no such hybrid estimator is truly universal. Aims. In this paper we aim at understanding and quantifying what physical processes fundamentally drive the variations between different hybrid estimators. In so doing, we aim at deriving new universal UV+IR hybrid estimators to correct the UV for dust attenuation at local and global scales, taking the intrinsic physical properties of galaxies into account. Methods. We use the CIGALE code to model the spatially resolved far-UV to far-IR spectral energy distributions of eight nearby star-forming galaxies drawn from the KINGFISH sample. This allows us to determine their local physical properties, and in particular their UV attenuation, average SFR, average specific SFR (sSFR), and their stellar mass. We then examine how hybrid estimators depend on said properties. Results. We find that hybrid UV+IR estimators strongly depend on the stellar mass surface density (in particular at 70 μm and 100 μm) and on the sSFR (in particular at 24 μm and the total infrared). Consequently, the IR scaling coefficients for UV obscuration can vary by almost an order of magnitude: from 1.55 to 13.45 at 24 μm for instance. This result contrasts with other groups who found relatively constant coefficients with small deviations. We exploit these variations to construct a new class of adaptative hybrid estimators based on observed UV to near-IR colours and near-IR luminosity densities per unit area. We find that they can reliably be extended to entire galaxies. Conclusions. The new estimators provide better estimates of attenuation-corrected UV emission than classical hybrid estimators published in the literature. Taking naturally variable impact of dust heated by old stellar populations into account, they constitute an important step towards universal estimators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA6
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: spiral
  • Galaxies: star formation
  • Infrared: galaxies
  • Ultraviolet: galaxies


Dive into the research topics of 'Towards universal hybrid star formation rate estimators'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this