Published in ApJS, 132: 129-198, 2001
Abstract. We present wide-field imagery and photometry of 43 selected nearby galaxies of all morphological types at ultraviolet and optical wavelengths. The ultraviolet (UV) images, in two broad bands at 1500 and 2500 Å, were obtained using the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT) during the Astro-1 Spacelab mission. The UV images have ~ 3" resolution, and the comparison sets of ground-based CCD images (in one or more of B, V, R, and H) have pixel scales and fields of view closely matching the UV frames. The atlas consists of multiband images and plots of UV/optical surface brightness and color profiles. Other associated parameters, such as integrated photometry and half-light radii, are tabulated. In an appendix, we discuss the sensitivity of different wavebands to a galaxy's star formation history in the form of "history weighting functions" and emphasize the importance of UV observations as probes of evolution during the past 10-1000 Myr. We find that UV galaxy morphologies are usually significantly different from visible band morphologies as a consequence of spatially inhomogeneous stellar populations. Differences are quite pronounced for systems in the middle range of Hubble types, Sa through Sc, but less so for ellipticals or late-type disks. Normal ellipticals and large spiral bulges are fainter and more compact in the UV. However, they typically exhibit smooth UV profiles with far-UV/optical color gradients which are larger than any at optical/IR wavelengths. The far-UV light in these cases is probably produced by extreme horizontal branch stars and their descendants in the dominant, low-mass, metal-rich population. The cool stars in the large bulges of Sa and Sb spirals fade in the UV while hot OB stars in their disks brighten, such that their Hubble classifications become significantly later. In the far-UV, early-type spirals often appear as peculiar, ringlike systems. In some spiral disks, UV-bright structures closely outline the spiral pattern; in others, the disks can be much more fragmented and chaotic than at optical wavelengths. Contributions by bright active galactic nuclei (AGNs) to the integrated UV light in our sample range from less than 10% to nearly 100%. A number of systems have unusual UV-bright structures in their inner disks, including rings, compact knots, and starburst nuclei, which could easily dominate the UV light in high-redshift analogs. A significant but variable fraction of the far-UV light in spiral disks is diffuse rather than closely concentrated to star-forming regions. Dust in normal spiral disks does not control UV morphologies, even in some highly inclined disk systems. The heaviest extinction is apparently confined to thin layers and the immediate vicinity of young H II complexes; the UV light emerges from thicker star distributions, regions evacuated of dust by photodestruction or winds, or by virtue of strong dust clumpiness. Only in cases where the dust layers are disturbed does dust appear to be a major factor in UV morphology. The UV-bright plume of M82 indicates that dust scattering of UV photons can be important in some cases. In a companion paper, we discuss far-UV data from the Astro-2 mission and optical comparisons for another 35 galaxies, emphasizing face-on spirals.
Key words: galaxies: evolution-galaxies: fundamental parameters-galaxies: photometry-galaxies: structure-ultraviolet: galaxies
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