Effect of dust extinction on estimating the star formation rate of galaxies: Lyman continuum extinction

Akio K. Inoue*, Hiroyuki Hirashita, Hideyuki Kamaya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


We reexamine the effect of Lyman continuum (λ ≤ 912 Å) extinction (LCE) by dust in H II regions in detail and discuss how it affects the estimation of the global star formation rate (SFR) of galaxies. To clarify the first issue, we establish two independent methods for estimating a parameter of LCE (f), which is defined as the fraction of Lyman continuum photons contributing to hydrogen ionization in an H II region. One of those methods determines f from the set of Lyman continuum flux, electron density, and metallicity. In the framework of this method, as the metallicity and/or the Lyman photon flux increase, f is found to decrease. The other method determines f from the ratio of infrared flux to Lyman continuum flux. Importantly, we show that f ≲ 0.5 via both methods in many H II regions of the Galaxy. Thus, it establishes that dust in such H II regions absorbs significant amount of Lyman continuum photons directly. To examine the second issue, we approximate f to a function of only the dust-to-gas mass ratio (i.e., metallicity), assuming a parameter fit for the Galactic H II regions. We find that a characteristic f̂ which is defined as f averaged over a galaxywide scale, is 0.3 for the nearby spiral galaxies. This relatively small f̂ indicates that a typical increment factor due to LCE for estimating the global SFR (1/f̂) is large (∼3) for the nearby spiral galaxies. Therefore, we conclude that the effect of LCE is not negligible relative to other uncertainties of estimating the SFR of galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-624
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 1
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Jul 10
Externally publishedYes


  • Dust, extinction
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: starburst
  • H II regions
  • Stars: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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