Diagnostics of dust content in spiral galaxies: Numerical simulations of radiative transfer

Y. I. Byun, K. C. Freeman, N. D. Kylafis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


In order to find the best observable diagnostics for the amount of internal extinction within spiral galaxies, we have constructed realistic models for disk galaxies with immersed dust layers. The radiative transfer including both scattering and absorption has been computed for a range of model galaxies in various orientations. Standard galaxy surface photometry techniques were then applied to the numerical data to illustrate how different observables such as total magnitude, color and luminosity distribution behave under given conditions of dust distribution. This work reveals a set of superior diagnostics for the dust in the disk. These include not only the integrated parameters, but also the apparent disk structural parameters, the amplitude of the asymmetry between the near and far sides of the galaxy as divided by the apparent major axis and their depen-dence on the orientation of the galaxy with respect to the observer. Combining the above diagnostics with our impressions of real galaxies, we arrive at the qualitative conclusion that galaxy disks are generally optically thin. Quantitative conclusions will appear in subsequent work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-127
Number of pages14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1994 Sept 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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