The cosmic infrared background resolved by Spitzer Contributions of mid-infrared galaxies to the far-infrared background

H. Dole, G. Lagache, J. L. Puget, K. I. Caputi, N. Fernández-Conde, E. Le Floc'h, C. Papovich, P. G. Pérez-González, G. H. Rieke, M. Blaylock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

421 Scopus citations


Aims. We quantify the contributions of 24 μm galaxies to the Far-Infrared (FIR) Background at 70 and 160 μm. We provide new estimates of the Cosmic Infrared Background (CIB), and compare it with the Cosmic Optical Background (COB). Methods. Using Spitzer data at 24, 70 and 160 μm in three deep fields, we stacked more than 19000 MIPS 24 μm sources with S 24 ≥ 60μJy at 70 and 160 μm, and measured the resulting FIR flux densities. Results. This method allows a gain up to one order of magnitude in depth in the FIR. We find that the Mid-Infrared (MIR) 24 μm selected sources contribute to more than 70% of the Cosmic Infrared Background (CIB) at 70 and 160 μm. This is the first direct measurement of the contribution of MIR-selected galaxies to the FIR CIB. Galaxies contributing the most to the total CIB are thus z ∼ 1 luminous infrared galaxies, which have intermediate stellar masses. We estimate that the CIB will be resolved at 0.9 mJy at 70 and 3 mJy at 160 μm. By combining the extrapolation of the 24 pm source counts below analysis, we obtain lower limits of 7.1 ±1.0 and 13.4 ±1.7 nW m-27000 sr-1 for the CIB at 70 and 160 μm, respectively. Conclusions. The MIPS surveys have resolved more than three quarters of the MIR and FIR CIB. By carefully integrating the Extragalactic Background Light (EBL) SED, we also find that the CIB has the same brightness as the COB, around 24 nW m-2 sr-1. The EBL is produced on average by 115 infrared photons for one visible photon. Finally, the galaxy formation and evolution processes emitted a brightness equivalent to 5% of the primordial electromagnetic background (CMB).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-429
Number of pages13
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2006


  • Cosmology: diffuse radiation
  • Cosmology: observations
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: infrared
  • Galaxies: starburst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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