A composite H ii region luminosity function in Hα of unprecedented statistical weight

Bradley, T. R.; Knapen, J. H.; Beckman, J. E.; Folkes, S. L.
Bibliographical reference

Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 459, Issue 1, November III 2006, pp.L13-L16

Advertised on:
Number of authors
IAC number of authors
Refereed citations
Context: .Statistical properties of H ii region populations in disk galaxies yield important clues to the physics of massive star formation. Aims: .We present a set of H ii region catalogues and luminosity functions for a sample of 56 spiral galaxies in order to derive the most general form of their luminosity function. Methods: .H ii region luminosity functions are derived for individual galaxies which, after photometric calibration, are summed to form a total luminosity function comprising 17 797 H ii regions from 53 galaxies. Results: .The total luminosity function, above its lower limit of completeness, is clearly best fitted by a double power law with a significantly steeper slope for the high luminosity portion of the function. This change of slope has been reported in the literature for individual galaxies, and occurs at a luminosity of log L = 38.6±0.1 (L in erg s-1) which has been termed the Strömgren luminosity. A steep fall off in the luminosity function above log L = 40 is also noted, and is related to an upper limit to the luminosities of underlying massive stellar clusters. Detailed data are presented for the individual sample galaxies. Conclusions: .The luminosity functions of H ii regions in spiral galaxies show a two slope power law behaviour, with a significantly steeper slope for the high luminosity branch. This can be modelled by assuming that the high luminosity regions are density bounded, though the scenario is complicated by the inhomogeneity of the ionized interstellar medium. The break, irrespective of its origin, is of potential use as a distance indicator for disc galaxies.