Astro2020 science white paper: Spatially resolved uv nebular diagnostics in star-forming galaxies

Bethan James, Danielle Berg, Rongmon Bordoloi, Nell Byler, John Chisholm, Dawn Erb, Nimish Hathi, Matthew Hayes, Alaina Henry, Anne Jaskot, Lisa Kewley, Sally Oey, Molly Peeples, Swara Ravindranath, Jane Rigby, Claudia Scarlata, Daniel Stark, Jason Tumlinson, Peter Zeidler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diagnosing the physical and chemical conditions within star-forming galaxies (SFGs) is of paramount importance to understanding key components of galaxy formation and evolution: star-formation, gas enrichment, outflows, and accretion. Well established optical emission-line diagnostics used to discern such properties (i.e., metal content, density, strength/shape of ionizing radiation) will be observationally inaccessible for the earliest galaxies, emphasizing the need for robust, reliable interstellar medium (ISM) diagnostics at ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths. Calibrating these UV diagnostics requires a comprehensive comparison of the UV and optical emission lines in nearby SFGs. Optical integral field unit (IFU) surveys have revealed the inhomogeneous nature of the ISM in SFGs, which leads to non-systematic biases in the interpretation of unresolved sources. Spatial variations are especially important to consider at UV wavelengths, where the strongest emission features originate from only the highest excitation regions of the nebula and are challenging to distinguish from competing high-ionization sources (e.g., shocks, AGN, etc.). Since surveys collecting large-scale optical integral field unit (IFU) spectroscopy are already underway, this white paper calls for an IFU or multi-object far-UV (FUV) spectroscopic instrument with high sensitivity, high spatial resolution, and large field of view (FoV). Given the impact of large-scale optical IFU surveys over the past decade, this white paper emphasizes the scientific need for a comparable foundation of spatially-resolved far-UV spectroscopy survey of nearby galaxies that will lay the foundation of diagnostics critical to the interpretation of the distant universe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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