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Paper: Mid-Infrared Spectral Diagnostics of Nearby Galaxies
Volume: 381, The Second Annual Spitzer Science Center Conference: Infrared Diagnostics of Galaxy Evolution
Page: 95
Authors: Dale, D.A.; the SINGS Team
Abstract: The Spitzer Space Telescope is pushing into new frontiers in high redshift astronomy. Closer to home, Spitzer is making an equally large impact on our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution. In this contribution we present mid-infrared diagnostics based largely on data from the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxies Survey (SINGS). Our main result is that these mid-infrared diagnostics effectively constrain a target’s dominant power source. The combination of a high ionization line index and PAH strength serves as an efficient discriminant between AGN and star-forming nuclei, confirming progress made with ISO spectroscopy on starbursting and ultraluminous infrared galaxies. The sensitivity of Spitzer allows us to probe fainter nuclear and star-forming regions within galaxy disks. We find that both star-forming nuclei and extranuclear regions stand apart from nuclei that are powered by Seyfert or LINER activity. In fact, we identify areas within three diagnostic diagrams containing >90% Seyfert/LINER nuclei or >90% H II regions/H II nuclei. We also find that, compared to starbursting nuclei, extranuclear regions typically separate even further from AGN, especially for low-metallicity extranuclear environments. In addition, instead of the traditional mid-infrared approach to differentiating between AGN and star-forming sources that utilizes relatively weak high-ionization lines, we show that strong low-ionization cooling lines of X-ray dominated regions like [Si II] 34.82 μm can alternatively be used as excellent discriminants.
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