The spitzer infrared nearby galaxies survey: A high-resolution spectroscopy anthology

D. A. Dale, J. D.T. Smith, E. A. Schlawin, L. Armus, B. A. Buckalew, S. A. Cohen, G. Helou, T. H. Jarrett, L. C. Johnson, J. Moustakas, E. J. Murphy, H. Roussel, K. Sheth, S. Staudaher, C. Bot, D. Calzetti, C. W. Engelbracht, K. D. Gordon, D. J. Hollenbach, R. C. KennicuttS. Malhotra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


High-resolution mid-infrared spectra are presented for 155 nuclear and extranuclear regions from the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey (SINGS). The fluxes for nine atomic forbidden and three molecular hydrogen mid-infrared emission lines are also provided, along with upper limits in key lines for infrared-faint targets. The SINGS sample shows a wide range in the ratio of [S III] 18.71 μm/[S III] 33.48 μm, but the average ratio of the ensemble indicates a typical interstellar electron density of 300-400 cm-3 on ∼23″ × 15″ scales and 500-600 cm-3 using ∼11″ × 9″ apertures, independent of whether the region probed is a star-forming nuclear, a star-forming extranuclear, or an active galactic nuclei (AGN) environment. Evidence is provided that variations in gas-phase metallicity play an important role in driving variations in radiation field hardness, as indicated by [Ne III] 15.56 μm/[Ne II] 12.81 μm, for regions powered by star formation. Conversely, the radiation hardness for galaxy nuclei powered by accretion around a massive black hole is independent of metal abundance. Furthermore, for metal-rich environments AGN are distinguishable from star-forming regions by significantly larger [Ne III] 15.56 μm/[Ne II] 12.81 μm ratios. Finally, [Fe II] 25.99 μm/[Ne II] 12.81 μm versus [Si II] 34.82 μm/[S III] 33.48 μm also provides an empirical method for discerning AGN from normal star-forming sources. However, similar to [Ne III] 15.56 μm/[Ne II] 12.81 μm, these mid-infrared line ratios lose their AGN/star-formation diagnostic powers for very low metallicity star-forming systems with hard radiation fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1821-1834
Number of pages14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 10 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • accretion, accretion
  • disks
  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: jets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this