NGC 4370: a case study for testing our ability to infer dust distribution and mass in nearby galaxies

S. Viaene, G. De Geyter, M. Baes, J. Fritz, G. J. Bendo, M. Boquien, A. Boselli, S. Bianchi, L. Cortese, P. Côté, J.-C. Cuillandre, I. De Looze (+5 others)
2015 Astronomy and Astrophysics  
A fraction of the early-type galaxy population hosts a prominent dust lane. Methods to quantify the dust content of these systems based on optical imaging data usually yield dust masses which are an order of magnitude lower than dust masses derived from the observed FIR emission. High-quality optical data from the Next Generation Virgo cluster Survey (NGVS) and FIR/submm observations from the Herschel Virgo Cluster Survey (HeViCS) allow us to revisit previous methods to determine the dust
more » ... t in galaxies and explore new ones. We aim to derive the dust mass in NGC 4370 from both optical and FIR data, and investigate the need to invoke a putative diffuse dust component. We create color and attenuation maps, which are converted to approximate dust mass maps based on simple dust geometries. Dust masses are also derived from SED fits to FIR/submm observations. Finally, inverse radiative transfer fitting is performed to investigate more complex dust geometries. The empirical methods applied to the optical data yield lower limits of 3.4e5 solar masses, an order of magnitude below the total dust masses derived from SED fitting. In contrast, radiative transfer models yield dust masses which are slightly lower, but fully consistent with the FIR-derived mass. Dust is more likely to be distributed in a ring around the centre of NGC 4370 as opposed to an exponential disc or a simple foreground screen. Moreover, using inverse radiative transfer fitting, we are able to constrain most of the parameters describing these geometries. The resulting dust masses are high enough to account for the dust observed at FIR/submm wavelengths, so that no diffuse dust component needs to be invoked. We furthermore caution for the interpretation of dust masses and optical depths based on optical data alone, using overly simplistic star-dust geometries and the neglect of scattering effects. [ABRIDGED]
doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201526147 fatcat:pqsbirx3zzes7avldxaptxdgya