Dust Attenuation in Late-Type Galaxies. I. Effects on Bulge and Disk Components

Pierini, D., Gordon, K. D., Witt, A. N., & Madsen, G. J.
2004, The Astrophysical Journal, 617, 1022


We present results of new Monte Carlo calculations made with the DIRTY code of radiative transfer of stellar and scattered radiation for a dusty giant late-type galaxy like the Milky Way, which illustrate the effect of the attenuation of stellar light by internal dust on the integrated photometry of the individual bulge and disk components. Here we focus on the behavior of the attenuation function, the color excess, and the fraction of light scattered or directly transmitted toward the outside observer as a function of the total amount of dust and the inclination of the galaxy, and the structure of the dusty interstellar medium (ISM) of the disk. We confirm that dust attenuation produces qualitatively and quantitatively different effects on the integrated photometry of bulge and disk, whatever the wavelength. In addition, we find that the structure of the dusty ISM affects more sensitively the observed magnitudes than the observed colors of both bulge and disk. Finally, we show that the contribution of the scattered radiation to the total monochromatic light received by the outside observer is significant, particularly at UV wavelengths, even for a two-phase, clumpy, dusty ISM. Thus, understanding dust scattering properties is fundamental for the interpretation of extragalactic observations in the rest-frame UV.

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