EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 394, Number 3, November II 2002
Page(s) 807 - 822
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20021234

A&A 394, 807-822 (2002)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20021234

An inverse method to recover the SFR and reddening properties from spectra of galaxies

J.-L. Vergely, A. Lançon and Mouhcine

Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg (UMR 7550), 11 rue de l'Université, 67000 Strasbourg, France

(Received 17 July 2001 / Accepted 26 August 2002 )

We develop a non-parametric inverse method to investigate the star formation rate, the metallicity evolution and the reddening properties of galaxies based on their spectral energy distributions (SEDs). This approach allows us to clarify the level of information present in the data, depending on its signal-to-noise ratio. When low resolution SEDs are available in the ultraviolet, optical and near-IR wavelength ranges together, we conclude that it is possible to constrain the star formation rate and the effective dust optical depth simultaneously with a signal-to-noise ratio of 25. With excellent signal-to-noise ratios, the age-metallicity relation can also be constrained. We apply this method to the well-known nuclear starburst in the interacting galaxy NGC 7714. We focus on deriving the star formation history and the reddening law. We confirm that classical extinction models cannot provide an acceptable simultaneous fit of the SED and the lines. We also confirm that, with the adopted population synthesis models and in addition to the current starburst, an episode of enhanced star formation that started more than 200 Myr ago is required. As the time elapsed since the last interaction with NGC 7715, based on dynamical studies, is about 100 Myr, our result reinforces the suggestion that this interaction might not have been the most important event in the life of NGC 7714.

Key words: methods: statistical - stars: formation -- ISM: dust, extinction -- galaxies: individual: NGC 7714 -- galaxies: stellar content

Offprint request: A. Lançon, lancon@newb6.u-strasbg.fr

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