Star formation and AGN activity in a sample of local luminous infrared galaxies through multiwavelength characterization

Rubén Herrero-Illana*, Miguel Á. Pérez-Torres, Zara Randriamanakoto, Antxon Alberdi, Andreas Efstathiou, Petri Väisänen, Erkki Kankare, Erik Kool, Seppo Mattila, Rajin Ramphul, Stuart Ryder

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)


    Nuclear starbursts and active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity are the main heating processes in luminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs) and their relationship is fundamental to understand galaxy evolution. In this paper, we study the star formation and AGN activity of a sample of 11 local LIRGs imaged with subarcsecond angular resolution at radio (8.4 GHz) and near-infrared (2.2 μm) wavelengths. This allows us to characterize the central kpc of these galaxies with a spatial resolution of ≃100 pc. In general, we find a good spatial correlation between the radio and the near-IR emission, although radio emission tends to be more concentrated in the nuclear regions. Additionally, we use an Markov Chain Monte Carlo code to model their multiwavelength spectral energy distribution (SED) using template libraries of starburst, AGN and spheroidal/cirrus models, determining the luminosity contribution of each component, and finding that all sources in our sample are starburst-dominated, except for NGC 6926 with an AGN contribution of ≃64 per cent. Our sources show high star formation rates (40-167M yr-1), supernova rates (0.4-2.0 SNyr-1) and similar starburst ages (13-29 Myr), except for the young starburst (9 Myr) in NGC 6926. A comparison of our derived starforming parameters with estimates obtained from different IR and radio tracers shows an overall consistency among the different star formation tracers. AGN tracers based on mid-IR, high-ionization line ratios also show an overall agreement with our SED model fit estimates for the AGN. Finally, we use our wide-band Very Large Array observations to determine pixel-by-pixel radio spectral indices for all galaxies in our sample, finding a typical median value (α ≃-0.8) for synchrotron-powered LIRGs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1634-1651
    Number of pages18
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Galaxies: interactions
    • Galaxies: nuclei
    • Galaxies: starburst
    • Infrared: galaxies
    • Radio continuum: galaxies


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