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Star formation rate indicators

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 September 2013

Daniela Calzetti
University of Massachusetts
Jesús Falcón-Barroso
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Tenerife
Johan H. Knapen
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Tenerife
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What else can be said about star formation rate indicators that has not been said already many times over? The ‘coming of age” of large ground-based surveys and the unprecedented sensitivity, angular resolution and/or field-of-view of infrared and ultraviolet space missions have provided extensive, homogeneous data on both nearby and distant galaxies, which have been used to further our understanding of the strengths and pitfalls of many common star formation rate indicators. The synergy between these surveys has also enabled the calibration of indicators for use on scales that are comparable to those of star-forming regions, thus much smaller than an entire galaxy. These are being used to investigate star formation processes at the sub-galactic scale. I review progress in the field over the past decade or so.

Introductory remarks

My goal for this chapter, based on a series of lectures at the XXIII Canary Islands Winter School of Astrophysics, is to present current understanding and calibrations of star formation rate (SFR) indicators, both on global, galaxy-wide scales, and on local, sub-galactic scales. SFRs are, together with masses, the most important parameters that define galaxies and their evolution across cosmic times. Although SFR calibrations have existed, with various levels of accuracy, for many years and sometimes decades, the past eight to ten years have brought forth major progress, through cohesive, multi-wavelength surveys of nearby and distant galaxies.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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