Calibrating the relation of low-frequency radio continuum to star formation rate at 1 kpc scale with LOFAR

V. Heesen, Buie II E., C. J. Huff, L. A. Perez, J. G. Woolsey, D. A. Rafferty, A. Basu, R. Beck, E. Brinks, C. Horellou, E. Scannapieco, M. Brüggen, R. -J. Dettmar, K. Sendlinger, B. Nikiel-Wroczyński, K. T. Chyży, P.N. Best, George H. Heald, R. Paladino

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Radio continuum (RC) emission in galaxies allows us to measure star formation rates (SFRs) unaffected by extinction due to dust, of which the low-frequency part is uncontaminated from thermal (free-free) emission. We calibrate the conversion from the spatially resolved 140 MHz RC emission to the SFR surface density ($\Sigma_{\rm SFR}$) at 1 kpc scale. We used recent observations of three galaxies (NGC 3184, 4736, and 5055) from the LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey (LoTSS), and archival LOw-Frequency ARray (LOFAR) data of NGC 5194. Maps were created with the facet calibration technique and converted to radio $\Sigma_{\rm SFR}$ maps using the Condon relation. We compared these maps with hybrid $\Sigma_{\rm SFR}$ maps from a combination of GALEX far-ultraviolet and Spitzer 24 $\mu\rm m$ data using plots tracing the relation at $1.2\times 1.2$-kpc$^2$ resolution. The RC emission is smoothed with respect to the hybrid $\Sigma_{\rm SFR}$ owing to the transport of cosmic-ray electrons (CREs). This results in a sublinear relation $(\Sigma_{\rm SFR})_{\rm RC} \propto [(\Sigma_{\rm SFR})_{\rm hyb}]^{a}$, where $a=0.59\pm 0.13$ (140 MHz) and $a=0.75\pm 0.10$ (1365 MHz). Both relations have a scatter of $\sigma = 0.3~\rm dex$. If we restrict ourselves to areas of young CREs ($\alpha > -0.65$; $I_\nu \propto \nu^\alpha$), the relation becomes almost linear at both frequencies with $a\approx 0.9$ and a reduced scatter of $\sigma = 0.2~\rm dex$. We then simulate the effect of CRE transport by convolving the hybrid $\Sigma_{\rm SFR}$ maps with a Gaussian kernel until the RC-SFR relation is linearised; CRE transport lengths are $l=1$-5 kpc. Solving the CRE diffusion equation, we find diffusion coefficients of $D=(0.13$-$1.5) \times 10^{28} \rm cm^2\,s^{-1}$ at 1 GeV. A RC-SFR relation at $1.4$ GHz can be exploited to measure SFRs at redshift $z \approx 10$ using $140$ MHz observations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Early online date15 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Oct 2018


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