ARlogo Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 2013. 51:393-455
Copyright © 2013 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved

Reprinted with kind permission from Annual Reviews, 4139 El Camino Way, Palo Alto, California, USA

For a PDF version of the article, click here.

MODELING THE PANCHROMATIC SPECTRAL ENERGY DISTRIBUTIONS OF GALAXIES

Charlie Conroy


Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California,
Santa Cruz, California, 95064


Abstract: The spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of galaxies are shaped by nearly every physical property of the system, including the star formation history, metal content, abundance pattern, dust mass, grain size distribution, star-dust geometry, and interstellar radiation field. The principal goal of stellar population synthesis (SPS) is to extract these variables from observed SEDs. In this review I provide an overview of the SPS technique and discuss what can be reliably measured from galaxy SEDs. Topics include stellar masses, star formation rates and histories, metallicities and abundance patterns, dust properties, and the stellar initial mass function.

Key words: stars, abundances, dust, stellar populations, galaxies: stellar content, galaxy evolution


Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

OVERVIEW OF STELLAR POPULATION SYNTHESIS
The Simple Stellar Population
Dust
Composite Stellar Populations
Nebular Emission
Fitting Models to Data

MASS-TO-LIGHT RATIOS & STELLAR MASSES
Techniques & Uncertainties
Uncertainties in M / L due to Stellar Evolution Uncertainties
Stellar Masses at High Redshift
Summary

STAR FORMATION RATES, HISTORIES, & STELLAR AGES
Measuring SFRs
Light-Weighted Mean Ages
Which Model SFHs to Use?
Non-Parametric Star Formation Histories
Low-Level Star Formation
Summary

STELLAR METALLICITIES & ABUNDANCE PATTERNS
The Age-Metallicity Degeneracy
Photometric Metallicities
Spectroscopic Metallicities
Abundance Patterns
The Low-Metallicity Tail
Summary

DUST
Total Dust Attenuation
Constraints on the Attenuation Curve
Physical Dust Properties
Cosmic Evolution of IR SEDs
Summary

THE INITIAL MASS FUNCTION
Summary

CONCLUDING REMARKS

REFERENCES

Next