Astronomy and Astrophysics Letters dedicated to ISO

ISOCAM observations of NGC 6946: Mid-IR structure

Malhotra S., Helou G., Van Buren D., Kong M., Beichman C.A., Dinerstein H., Hollenbach D.J., Hunter D.A., Lo K.Y., Lord S.D., Lu N.Y., Rubin R.H., Stacey G.J., Thronson H.A.Jr, Werner M.W.


The nearby spiral galaxy NGC 6946 was observed with ISO-CAM in the mid-infrared, achieving 7" resolution and sub-MJy/sr sensitivity. Images taken with CAM filters LW2 (7 mu m) and LW3 (15 mu m) are analysed to determine the morphology of this galaxy and understand better the emission mechanisms. The mid-infrared emission follows an exponential disk with a scale length 75". This is 60% of the scale length in the optical R-band and radio continuum. The nuclear starburst region is too bright for reliable measurement in these images. Its surface brightness exceeds the inner disk by at least a factor of 12. The arms and interarm regions are clearly detected, with each of these components contributing about equally to the disk emission. The arm-interarm contrast is 2-4 in the mid-IR, close to that measured in the visible R band light and lower than the contrast in H{alpha}, suggesting that non-ionizing radiation contributes significantly to dust heating.

infrared: galaxies - infrared: ISM: continuum - galaxies: ISM - galaxies: spiral - galaxies: structure

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