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The Herschel Space Observatory View of the Gas and Dust Properties of Dwarf Galaxies

  • M. Koleva, Ph. Prugniel, I. Vauglin, S.C. Madden (a1), M. Galametz (a1), D. Cormier (a1), V. Lebouteiller (a1), F. Galliano (a1), S. Hony (a1), M. Sauvage (a1), M. Pohlen (a2), G. Bendo (a3), B. O’Halloran (a3), The SPIRE SAG 2 and PACS consortia...

Abstract

The Herschel Dwarf Galaxy Survey investigates the metal enrichment of the dust and gas in galaxies through observations of the local universe dwarf galaxies via the new far-infrared (FIR) and submillimetre imaging spectroscopic and photometric observations from the recently launched Herschel Space Observatory. The dust spectral energy distributions can now be constrained out to submm wavelengths and often show a submm excess in the low metallicity galaxies, which, if tracing very cold dust, could highlight large dust masses, sometimes not easily reconciled with their low-metallicity and observed gas mass. Additionally, Herschel observations of the FIR fine-structure lines probe the low density ionised gas, the HII regions and photodissociation regions. L[CII]/LCO is remarkably high in dwarf galaxies – typically an order of magnitude larger than more metal-rich starburst galaxies, pointing to a potentially significant reservoir of H2 not traced by CO but shielded in the C+-emitting envelopes. Thus a more accurate estimate of the molecular gas mass in low metallicity galaxies will be via the (CO + [CII]) to H2 conversion factor. The 88 μm [OIII] line is the brightest of all FIR lines in low-metallicity galaxies, sometimes 1.5 to 2 time brighter than the 158 μm [CII] line which is usually the dominate FIR coolant in normal spiral and starburst galaxies. The 88 μm [OIII] line may become the workhorse diagnostic for the high-redshift low-metallicity galaxies which will be targets for future submm observatories, such as ALMA. Further observations from The Herschel Dwarf Galaxy survey will provide a more complete picture of the nature of the dust and gas in low metallicity galaxies and thus a more comprehensive view of the chemical evolution of galaxies.

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