Radio spectral index images of the spiral galaxies NGC 0628, NGC 3627, and NGC 7331*
Institut fur Astro - und Teilchenphysik Universitat Innsbruck, Technikerstrasse 25, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria e-mail: email@example.com
2 INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari, Loc. Poggio dei Pini, Strada 54, 09012 Capoterra (CA), Italy
3 Istituto di Radioastronomia - INAF, Via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
Accepted: 22 May 2009
Aims. To understand the cosmic-ray propagation mechanism in galaxies and its correlation with the sites of star formation, we compare the spatially resolved radio spectral index of three spiral galaxies with their IR distribution.
Methods. We present new low-frequency radio continuum observations of the galaxies NGC 0628, NGC 3627, and NGC 7331, taken at 327 MHz with the Very Large Array.
Results. We complemented our data set with sensitive archival observations at 1.4 GHz and studied the variations in the radio spectral index within the disks of these spiral galaxies. We also compared the spectral index distribution and the IR distribution, using 70 μm Spitzer observations.
Conclusions. We find that in these galaxies the nonthermal spectral index is anticorrelated with the radio brightness. Bright regions, like the bar in NGC 3627 or the circumnuclear region in NGC 7331, are characterized by a flatter spectrum with respect to the underlying disk. Therefore, a systematic steepening of the spectral index with the increasing distance from the center of these galaxies is observed. Furthermore, by comparing the radio images with the 70 μm images of the Spitzer satellite, we find that a similar anticorrelation exists between the radio spectral index and the infrared brightness, as expected from the local correlation between the radio continuum and the infrared emission. Our results support the idea that the electron diffusion must be efficient in regions of intense star formation. The observed anticorrelation between radio brightness and spectral index may imply that the cosmic ray density and the magnetic field strength are significantly higher in these regions than in their surroundings.
Key words: radio continuum: galaxies / galaxies: spiral / galaxies: ISM / stars: formation
© ESO, 2009