High and low surface brightness galaxies in the local universe. V. Optical and H I properties

Valorie Burkholder, Chris Impey, David Sprayberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Using optical spectra of the nuclei of 250 galaxies chosen from the Automated Plate Measuring Facility (APM) survey of UK Schmidt plates, we derive synthetic B - V and V - R colors, estimates of reddening from Balmer decrements, metallicity via oxygen abundance, and star formation rate from the Hα luminosity. We also present mass-to-light ratios and gas mass fractions from 21 cm H I measurements of 238 APM survey galaxies, 101 of which also have optical spectra. This sample of galaxies spans a large range in surface brightness, from high surface brightness irregular galaxies down to the kind of low surface brightness (LSB) galaxies that are missing from most magnitude-limited catalogs. The generally blue global colors are best explained by a combination of low metallicity and active star formation, primarily because of the tremendous scatter in metallicity versus B - V. Optical spectra show the presence of G and K main-sequence stars in the nuclei of these galaxies, and the stellar mass-to-light ratios and gas mass fractions show the galaxies as a whole to be gas-rich. LSB galaxies are most likely to experience sporadic low levels of star formation over gigayear timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2318-2340
Number of pages23
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2001


  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: abundances
  • Galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • Galaxies: general
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Galaxies: stellar content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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