Modelling galaxy spectra in presence of interstellar dust – II. From the ultraviolet to the far-infrared
Abstract: In this paper, we present spectrophotometric models for galaxies of different morphological type whose spectral energy distributions (SEDs) take into account the effect of dust in absorbing UV-optical light and re-emitting it in the infrared (IR). The models contain three main components: (i) the diffuse interstellar medium (ISM) composed of gas and dust whose emission and extinction properties have already been studied in detail by Piovan et al. (2006), (ii) the large complexes of molecular clouds (MCs) in which new stars are formed and (iii) the stars of any age and chemical composition. The galaxy models stand on a robust model of chemical evolution that assuming a suitable prescription for gas infall, initial mass function, star formation rate and stellar ejecta provides the total amounts of gas and stars present at any age together with their chemical history. The chemical models are taylored in such a way to match the gross properties of galaxies of different morphological type. In order to describe the interaction between stars and ISM in building up the total SED of a galaxy, one has to know the spatial distribution of gas and stars. This is made adopting a simple geometrical model for each type of galaxy. The total gas and star mass provided by the chemical model are distributed over the whole volume by means of suitable density profiles, one for each component and depending on the galaxy type (spheroidal, disk and disk plus bulge). The galaxy is then split in suitable volume elements to each of which the appropriate amounts of stars, MCs and ISM are assigned. Each elemental volume bin is at the same time source of radiation from the stars inside and absorber and emitter of radiation from and to all other volume bins and the ISM in between. They are the elemental seeds to calculate the total SED. Using the results for the properties of the ISM and the Single Stellar Populations (SSPs) presented by Piovan et al. (2006) we derive the SEDs of galaxies of different morphological type. First the technical details of the method are described and the basic relations driving the interaction between the physical components of the galaxy are presented. Second, the main parameters are examined and their effects on the SED of three prototype galaxies (a disk, an elliptical and a starburster) are highlighted. The final part of the paper is devoted to assess the ability of our galaxy models in reproducing the SEDs of a few real galaxies of the Local Universe.
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