Dust and extinction curves in galaxies with z > 0: The interstellar medium of gravitational lens galaxies

E. E. Falco, C. D. Impey, C. S. Kochanek, J. Lehár, B. A. McLeod, H. W. Rix, C. R. Keeton, J. A. Muñoz, C. Y. Peng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

211 Scopus citations


We determine 37 differential extinctions in 23 gravitational lens galaxies over the range 0 ≲ zl ≲ 1. Only seven of the 23 systems have spectral differences consistent with no differential extinction. The median differential extinction for the optically selected (radio-selected) subsample is ΔE(B-V) = 0.04 (0.06) mag. The extinction is patchy and shows no correlation with impact parameter. The median total extinction of the bluest images is E(B-V) = 0.08 mag, although the total extinction distribution is dominated by the uncertainties in the intrinsic colors of quasars. The directly measured extinction distributions are consistent with the mean extinction estimated by comparing the statistics of quasar and radio lens surveys, thereby confirming the need for extinction corrections when using the statistics of lensed quasars to estimate the cosmological model. A disjoint subsample of two face-on, radio-selected spiral lenses shows both high differential and total extinctions, but standard dust-to-gas ratios combined with the observed molecular gas column densities overpredict the amount of extinction by factors of 2-5. For several systems we can estimate the extinction law, ranging from Rv = 1.5 ± 0.2 for a zl = 0.96 elliptical, to Rv = 7.2 ± 0.1 for a zl = 0.68 spiral. For the four radio lenses where we can construct nonparametric extinction curves, we find no evidence for gray dust over the IR-UV wavelength range. The dust can be used to estimate lens redshifts with reasonable accuracy, although we sometimes find two degenerate redshift solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-632
Number of pages16
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 1
StatePublished - Oct 1 1999


  • Dust, extinction
  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: photometry
  • Gravitational lensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Dust and extinction curves in galaxies with z > 0: The interstellar medium of gravitational lens galaxies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this