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Astron. Astrophys. 345, 391-402 (1999)

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The emission line sequence of normal spiral galaxies

L. Sodré Jr. 1 and G. Stasiska 2

1 Departamento de Astronomia, Instituto Astronômico e Geofísico da USP, Av. Miguel Stefano 4200, 04301-904 São Paulo, Brazil (laerte@iagusp.usp.br)
2 DAEC, Observatoire de Meudon, F-92195 Meudon Principal Cedex, France (grazyna@obspm.fr)

Received 5 October 1998 / Accepted 2 March 1999


We have analyzed the emission line properties in the integrated spectra of 15 normal spiral galaxies. We show that very clear trends appear when plotting relevant emission line ratios or equivalent widths as a function of galaxy spectral types, obtained with a Principal Component Analysis of the continua and absorption features of spectra. The equivalent widths of all the lines analyzed correlate extremely well with spectral types, implying that each of them can be considered a good indicator of the spectral type in normal galaxies. The position of most galaxies of our sample in classical emission line diagnostic diagrams follows that of individual giant HII regions in spiral galaxies, but for the earliest type galaxies, the emission line pattern resembles more that of LINERs. Therefore, the direct interpretation of equivalent widths in terms of star formation rates would be misleading in such cases. The observed trends in the emission line ratios as a function of galaxy spectral type suggest a decrease of O/H, a decrease of N/O, an increase of the average effective temperature or ionization parameter, and a decrease of the effective internal extinction of galaxies with increasing (early to late) spectral type.

Key words: methods: statistical – galaxies: fundamental parameters – galaxies: ISM – galaxies: active – galaxies: spiral

Send offprint requests to: L. Sodré Jr.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: April 19, 1999