PHANGS-JWST first results: the dust filament network of NGC 628 and its relation to star formation activity

David A. Thilker*, Janice C. Lee, Sinan Deger, Ashley T. Barnes, Frank Bigiel, Médéric Boquien, Yixian Cao, Mélanie Chevance, Daniel A. Dale, Oleg V. Egorov, Simon C. O. Glover, Kathryn Grasha, Jonathan D. Henshaw, Ralf S. Klessen, Eric Koch, J. M. Diederik Kruijssen, Adam K. Leroy, Ryan A. Lessing, Sharon E. Meidt, Francesca PinnaMiguel Querejeta, Erik Rosolowsky, Karin M. Sandstrom, Eva Schinnerer, Rowan J. Smith, Elizabeth J. Watkins, Thomas G. Williams, Gagandeep S. Anand, Francesco Belfiore, Guillermo A. Blanc, Rupali Chandar, Enrico Congiu, Eric Emsellem, Brent Groves, Kathryn Kreckel, Kirsten L. Larson, Daizhong Liu, Ismael Pessa, Bradley C. Whitmore

*Corresponding author for this work

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PHANGS-JWST mid-infrared (MIR) imaging of nearby spiral galaxies has revealed ubiquitous filaments of dust emission in intricate detail. We present a pilot study to systematically map the dust filament network (DFN) at multiple scales between 25-400 pc in NGC 628. MIRI images at 7.7, 10, 11.3 and 21 μm of NGC 628 are used to generate maps of the filaments in emission, while PHANGS-HST B-band imaging yields maps of dust attenuation features. We quantify the correspondence between filaments traced by MIR thermal continuum / polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emission and filaments detected via extinction / scattering of visible light; the fraction of MIR flux contained in the DFN; and the fraction of HII regions, young star clusters and associations within the DFN. We examine the dependence of these quantities with the physical scale at which the DFN is extracted. With our highest resolution DFN maps (25 pc filament width), we find that filaments in emission and attenuation are co-spatial in 40% of sight lines, often exhibiting detailed morphological agreement; that ~30% of the MIR flux is associated with the DFN; and that 75-80% of HII regions and 60% of star clusters younger than 5 Myr are contained within the DFN. However, the DFN at this scale is anti-correlated with looser associations of stars younger than 5 Myr identified using PHANGS-HST near-UV imaging. We discuss the impact of these findings for studies of star formation and the ISM, and the broad range of new investigations enabled with multi-scale maps of the DFN.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL13
Number of pages19
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
Early online date16 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2023


  • Interstellar medium
  • Interstellar filaments
  • Interstellar dust
  • Dust continuum emission
  • Extinction
  • Star formation
  • Star forming regions


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