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Date and Time of the Query: 2019-04-19 T13:51:52 PDT
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For refcode 2002ApJS..143...47D:
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Copyright by American Astronomical Society. Reproduced by permission
2002ApJS..143...47D Star Formation Rates in Interacting Starburst Galaxies M. A. Dopita, M. Pereira, and L. J. Kewley Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Private Bag, Weston Creek PO, ACT 2611, Australia and M. Capaccioli Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy Received 2002 April 10; accepted 2002 June 28 ABSTRACT By narrowband imaging in H{alpha} and in the adjacent red stellar continuum we have studied the rate and distribution of star formation in 43 systems of luminous and ultraluminous IR galaxies currently undergoing interaction and merging. These galaxies are amongst the most luminous at 60 micron and range in distance from ~50 up to 100 Mpc. Here we present the H{alpha} and the adjacent red-continuum narrowband images, and we compare the star formation rates derived from H{alpha} with those estimated from the IR luminosity. We find clear evidence for substantial extinction and obscuration of star-forming regions in the optical. Without correction for reddening in the host galaxy or correction for [N II] contamination, the star formation rates derived for H{alpha} are typically 0.5-1.0 dex lower than those estimated from the IR flux, and the scatter in the correlation is very large. However, an unexpected result is that when spectroscopic data are used to eliminate objects dominated by an active nucleus, to determine the galaxian extinction, and to correct the H{alpha} flux for both reddening and for the contamination by the [N II] emission, a remarkably good correlation emerges between the star formation rates estimated from the H{alpha} flux and those derived from the FIR continuum. In addition, a strong correlation is found between the extinction in the line-emitting region, A_H{alpha}_, and the rate of star formation. Our results invalidate the use of H{alpha} imaging as a reliable indicator of star formation in starburst galaxies unless spectroscopic data are also available. This has important implications for the determination of star formation rates in high-redshift galaxies. Finally, we find no correlation between the measured star formation rates, and the interaction class, suggesting that the enhanced star formation rates triggered by the interaction continue throughout the whole of the merging sequence. Subject headings: galaxies: interactions - galaxies: starburst - H II regions - stars: formation
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