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Creators/Authors contains: "Benjamin, D."

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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
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  5. Abstract Accurate models of the star formation histories (SFHs) of recently quenched galaxies can provide constraints on when and how galaxies shut down their star formation. The recent development of nonparametric SFH models promises the flexibility required to make these measurements. However, model and prior choices significantly affect derived SFHs, particularly for post-starburst galaxies (PSBs), which have sharp changes in their recent SFH. In this paper, we create mock PSBs, then use the Prospector SED fitting software to test how well four different SFH models recover key properties. We find that a two-component parametric model performs well for our simple mock galaxies, but is sensitive to model mismatches. The fixed- and flexible-bin nonparametric models included in Prospector are able to rapidly quench a major burst of star formation, but systematically underestimate the post-burst age by up to 200 Myr. We develop a custom SFH model that allows for additional flexibility in the recent SFH. Our flexible nonparametric model is able to constrain post-burst ages with no significant offset and just ∼90 Myr of scatter. Our results suggest that while standard nonparametric models are able to recover first-order quantities of the SFH (mass, SFR, average age), accurately recovering higher-order quantities (burstmore »fraction, quenching time) requires careful consideration of model flexibility. These mock recovery tests are a critical part of future SFH studies. Finally, we show that our new, public SFH model is able to accurately recover the properties of mock star-forming and quiescent galaxies and is suitable for broader use in the SED fitting community. https://github.com/bd-j/prospector« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  6. Abstract We present Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Cycle 2 observations of CO(2–1) emission from the circumnuclear disks in two early-type galaxies, NGC 1380 and NGC 6861. The disk in each galaxy is highly inclined ( i ∼ 75°), and the projected velocities of the molecular gas near the galaxy centers are ∼300 km s −1 in NGC 1380 and ∼500 km s −1 in NGC 6861. We fit thin disk dynamical models to the ALMA data cubes to constrain the masses of the central black holes (BHs). We created host galaxy models using Hubble Space Telescope images for the extended stellar mass distributions and incorporated a range of plausible central dust extinction values. For NGC 1380, our best-fit model yields M BH = 1.47 × 10 8 M ⊙ with a ∼40% uncertainty. For NGC 6861, the lack of dynamical tracers within the BH’s sphere of influence due to a central hole in the gas distribution precludes a precise measurement of M BH . However, our model fits require a value for M BH in the range of (1–3) × 10 9 M ⊙ in NGC 6861 to reproduce the observations. The BH masses are generally consistent with predictionsmore »from local BH–host galaxy scaling relations. Systematic uncertainties associated with dust extinction of the host galaxy light and choice of host galaxy mass model dominate the error budget of both measurements. Despite these limitations, the measurements demonstrate ALMA’s ability to provide constraints on BH masses in cases where the BH’s projected radius of influence is marginally resolved or the gas distribution has a central hole.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  7. Abstract One of the most common methods for inferring galaxy attenuation curves is via spectral energy distribution (SED) modeling, where the dust attenuation properties are modeled simultaneously with other galaxy physical properties. In this paper, we assess the ability of SED modeling to infer these dust attenuation curves from broadband photometry, and suggest a new flexible model that greatly improves the accuracy of attenuation curve derivations. To do this, we fit mock SEDs generated from the simba cosmological simulation with the prospector SED fitting code. We consider the impact of the commonly assumed uniform screen model and introduce a new nonuniform screen model parameterized by the fraction of unobscured stellar light. This nonuniform screen model allows for a nonzero fraction of stellar light to remain unattenuated, resulting in a more flexible attenuation curve shape by decoupling the shape of the UV attenuation curve from the optical attenuation curve. The ability to constrain the dust attenuation curve is significantly improved with the use of a nonuniform screen model, with the median offset in UV attenuation decreasing from −0.30 dex with a uniform screen model to −0.17 dex with the nonuniform screen model. With this increase in dust attenuation modeling accuracy, wemore »also improve the star formation rates (SFRs) inferred with the nonuniform screen model, decreasing the SFR offset on average by 0.12 dex. We discuss the efficacy of this new model, focusing on caveats with modeling star-dust geometries and the constraining power of available SED observations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
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