Characterizing the Dust and Cold-Gas Content of Nearby Star-Forming Galaxies
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Composed of baryonic and non-baryonic matter, star-forming galaxies are one of the many unique structures within the universe. Due to minimal emission contribution from their galactic core, star-forming galaxies emit similar signatures, particularly in Balmer emission. Balmer emission can be used with physical extinction processes to trace the overall composition of certain baryonic matter components within star- forming galaxies. The baryonic matter components of any galaxy can be separated into several elements: stars, gas, and dust. While accurate methods to measure the stellar component of galaxies are convenient and simple, methods to determine the dust and gas content are scant and rely on longer observations from ground and space-based telescopes. Surveys of the dust and cold-gas components exist, yet a law to describe the dust and cold-gas content as a function of Balmer emission does not currently exist. I present methods to constrain the dust and cold-gas content of star-forming galaxies using Bayesian fitting of the Balmer decrement (log(Hα/Hβ)). The constraints are applied to an independent galaxy sample (SDSS) with similar physical characteristics to test the validity of the dust and cold-gas calibrations. The constraints show low intrinsic scatter, and show satisfactory results when applied to a wider star-forming galaxy sample with independent Balmer decrement measurements. The effects of inclination dependent reddening on the calibration are significant when applied to the SDSS sample, indicating the calibration requires further modification.
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