Star formation rate in galaxies from UV, IR, and Hα estimators

H. Hirashita*, V. Buat, A. K. Inoue

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)


Infrared (IR) luminosity of galaxies originating from dust thermal emission can be used as an indicator of the star formation rate (SFR). Inoue et al. (2000, IHK) have derived a formula for the conversion from dust IR luminosity to SFR by using the following three quantities: the fraction of Lyman continuum luminosity absorbed by gas (f), the fraction of UV luminosity absorbed by dust (ε), and the fraction of dust heating from old (≳108 yr) stellar population (η). We develop a method to estimate those three quantities based on the idea that the various way of SFR estimates from ultraviolet (UV) luminosity (2000 Å luminosity), Hα luminosity, and dust IR luminosity should return the same SFR. After applying our method to samples of galaxies, the following results are obtained in our framework. First, our method is applied to a sample of starforming galaxies, finding that f ∼ 0.6, ε ∼ 0.5, and η ∼ 0.4 as representative values. Next, we apply the method to a starburst sample, which shows larger extinction than the star-forming galaxy sample. With the aid of f, ε, and η, we are able to estimate reliable SFRs from UV and/or IR luminosities. Moreover, the Hα luminosity, if the Hα extinction is corrected by using the Balmer decrement, is suitable for a statistical analysis of SFR, because the same correction factor for the Lyman continuum extinction (i.e. 1/f) is applicable to both normal and starburst galaxies over all the range of SFR. The metallicity dependence of f and ε is also tested: Only the latter proves to have a correlation with metallicity. As an extension of our result, the local (z = 0) comoving density of SFR can be estimated with our dust extinction corrections. We show that UV, Hα, and IR comoving luminosity densities at z = 0 give a consistent SFR per comoving volume (∼ 3 × 10-2H Modot; yr-1 Mpc-3). Useful formulae for SFR estimate are listed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-100
Number of pages18
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Oct
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: starburst
  • ISM: dust extinction
  • Infrared: galaxies
  • Ultraviolet: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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