Observations of luminous infrared galaxies with the Spitzer Space Telescope

Abstract

Luminous and ultraluminous infrared galaxies have been an active area of galaxy research since their discovery more than three decades ago. With its vast increase in sensitivity in the infrared, Spitzer played a major role in exploring these galaxies in the local Universe, and at high redshifts. In this Review, we highlight some of the discoveries made with the Infrared Spectrograph on Spitzer, through observations of luminous and ultraluminous infrared galaxies to cosmic noon. These include measuring the role of starbursts and actively accreting supermassive black holes as power sources, finding evidence for energetic feedback on the atomic and molecular interstellar gas and dust and identifying the physical properties of luminous infrared galaxies on and off the galaxy star-forming main sequence. Finally, we briefly discuss how future infrared telescopes will build upon the discoveries of Spitzer to better understand the evolution of this important population since the epoch of reionization.

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Fig. 1: Multicomponent fit to the infrared spectral energy distribution (SED) of the nearest ULIRG, Arp 220.
Fig. 2: Hubble Space Telescope images of three nearby ULIRGs.
Fig. 3: Spitzer/IRS spectra of five local ULIRGs.
Fig. 4: Obscured fast outflows in local ULIRGs.
Fig. 5: Composite Spitzer/IRS specrum of z ≈ 2 SMGs.
Fig. 6: IRS spectrum of the z = 4.055 SMG, GN20.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge helpful comments and contributions from by C. M. Bradford, T. Diaz-Santos, G. Helou, K. Larson, S. Linden, M. Meixner, A. Pope, D. Riechers, H. W. W. Spoon and M. Werner.

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Armus, L., Charmandaris, V. & Soifer, B.T. Observations of luminous infrared galaxies with the Spitzer Space Telescope. Nat Astron 4, 467–477 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1106-3

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