For a sample of 43 nearby, late-type galaxies, we have investigated the radial variation of both the current star formation rate and the dust-induced UV light attenuation. To do this we have cross-correlated IRAS images and GALEX observations for each of these galaxies and compiled observations of the gas (CO and H I) and metal-abundance gradients found in the literature. We find that attenuation correlates with metallicity. We then use the UV profiles, corrected for attenuation, to study several variants of the Schmidt law and conclude that our results are compatible with a simple law similar to the one of Kennicutt extending smoothly to lower surface densities, but with considerable scatter. We do not detect an abrupt break in the UV light at the threshold radius derived from Hα data (at which the Hα profile shows a break and beyond which only a few H n regions are usually found). We interpret the Ha sudden break not as a change in the star formation regime (as often suggested), but as the vanishingly small number of ionizing stars corresponding to low levels of star formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science