We present Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) images of the prototypical edge-on starburst galaxies M82 and NGC 253. Our initial analysis is restricted to the complex of ultraviolet (UV) filaments in the starburst-driven outflows in the galaxy halos. The UV luminosities in the halo are too high to be provided by continuum and line emission from shock-heated or photoionized gas, except perhaps in the brightest filaments in M82, suggesting that most of the UV light is the stellar continuum of the starburst scattered into our line of sight by dust in the outflow. This interpretation agrees with previous results from optical imaging polarimetry in M82. The observed luminosity of the halo UV light is ≲0.1% of the bolometric luminosity of the starburst. The morphology of the UV filaments in both galaxies shows a high degree of spatial correlation with Hα and X-ray emission. This indicates that these outflows contain cold gas and dust, some of which may be vented into the intergalactic medium (IGM). UV light is seen in the "Hα cap" 11 kpc north of M82. If this cap is a result of the wind fluid running into a preexisting gas cloud, the gas cloud contains dust and is not primordial in nature, but was probably stripped from M82 or M81. If starburst winds efficiently expel dust into the IGM, this could have significant consequences for the observation of cosmologically distant objects.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science