Toward a resolution of the discrepancy between different estimators of star formation rate

A. M. Hopkins*, A. J. Connolly, D. B. Haarsma, L. E. Cram

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Citations (Scopus)


Different wavelength regimes and methods for estimating the space density of the star formation rate (SFR) result in discrepant values. While it is recognized that ultraviolet (UV) and Hα emission-line data must be corrected for the effects of extinction, the magnitude of the required correction is uncertain. Even when these corrections are made there remains a significant discrepancy between SFRs derived from UV and Hα measurements compared with those derived from far-infrared (FIR) and radio luminosities. Since the FIR-radio-derived SFRs are not affected by extinction and simple corrections to reconcile the UV and Hα measurement with these do not fully account for the discrepancies, a more sophisticated correction may be required. Recent results suggest that at least part of the solution may be a form of extinction that increases with increasing SFR (or luminosity, given the common assumption that SFR is proportional to luminosity). We present an analysis of the effects of a dust reddening dependent on star formation rate applied to estimators of SFR. We show (1) that the discrepancies between Hα and FIR-radio SFR estimates may be explained by such an effect and we present an iterative method for applying the correction and (2) that UV-based estimates of SFR are harder to reconcile with FIR-radio estimates using this method, although the extent of the remaining discrepancy is less than for a non-SFR-dependent correction. Particularly at high redshift, our understanding of extinction at UV wavelengths may require a still more complex explanation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-296
Number of pages9
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: starburst


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