Theoretical modeling of star-forming galaxies. I. Emission-line diagnostic grids for local and low-metallicity galaxies

Emily M. Levesque, Lisa J. Kewley, Kirsten L. Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We use the newest generation of the Starburst99/Mappings code to generate an extensive suite of models to facilitate detailed studies of star-forming galaxies and their interstellar medium properties, particularly at low metallicities. The new models used include a rigorous treatment of metal opacities in the population synthesis modeling and more detailed dust physics in the photoionization code. These models span a wide range of physical parameters including metallicity, ionization parameter, and the adoption of both an instantaneous burst and continuous star formation history (SFH). We examine the agreement between our models and local (z < 0.1) star-forming galaxy populations from several large data sets, including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the Nearby Field Galaxy Survey, and samples of blue compact galaxies and metal-poor galaxies. We find that models adopting a continuous SFH reproduce the metallicity-sensitive line ratios observed in the local population of star-forming galaxies, including the low-metallicity sample. However, we find that the current codes generate an insufficiently hard ionizing radiation field, leading to deficiencies in the [S II] fluxes produced by the models. We consider the advantages and shortcomings of this suite of models, and discuss future work and improvements that can be applied to the modeling of star-forming galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)712-727
Number of pages16
JournalAstronomical Journal
Volume139
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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