Converting from 3.6 and 4.5μm fluxes to stellar mass

Michael Eskew, Dennis F Zaritsky, Sharon Meidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


We use high spatial resolution maps of stellar mass and infrared flux of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) to calibrate a conversion between 3.6 and 4.5μm fluxes and stellar mass, M * = 10 5.65 F 2.85 3.6 F -1.85 4.5(D/0.05) 2 M , where fluxes are in Jy and D is the luminosity distance to the source in Mpc, and to provide an approximate empirical estimate of the fractional internal uncertainty in M * of , where N is the number of stars in the region. We find evidence that young stars and hot dust contaminate the measurements, but attempts to remove this contamination using data that are far superior to what are generally available for unresolved galaxies resulted in marginal gains in accuracy. The scatter among mass estimates for regions in the LMC is comparable to that found by previous investigators when modeling composite populations, and so we conclude that our simple conversion is as precise as possible for the data and models currently available. Our results allow for a reasonably bottom-heavy initial mass function, such as Salpeter or heavier, and moderately disfavor lighter versions such as a diet-Salpeter or Chabrier initial mass function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012



  • galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • galaxies: stellar content
  • Magellanic Clouds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

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