The stability of low surface brightness disks based on multi-wavelength modeling

J. M. MacLachlan, L. D. Matthews, K. Wood, J. S. Gallagher

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28 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate the structure and composition of the dusty interstellar medium (ISM) of low surface brightness (LSB) disk galaxies, we have used multi-wavelength photometry to construct spectral energy distributions for three low-mass, edge-on LSB galaxies (V-rot = 88-105 km s(-1)). We use Monte Carlo radiation transfer codes that include the effects of transiently heated small grains and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules to model and interpret the data. We find that, unlike the high surface brightness galaxies previously modeled, the dust disks appear to have scale heights equal to or exceeding their stellar scale heights. This result supports the findings of previous studies that low-mass disk galaxies have dust scale heights comparable to their stellar scale heights and suggests that the cold ISM of low-mass, LSB disk galaxies may be stable against fragmentation and gravitational collapse. This may help to explain the lack of observed dust lanes in edge-on LSB galaxies and their low current star formation rates. Dust masses are found in the range (1.16-2.38) x 10(6) M-circle dot, corresponding to face-on (edge-on), V-band, optical depths 0.034 less than or similar to tau(face) less than or similar to 0.106 (0.69 less than or similar to tau(eq) less than or similar to 1.99).

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011


  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: spiral
  • Radiative transfer


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