Indexed on: 10 Feb '05Published on: 10 Feb '05Published in: Astrophysics
We give an overview of the factors shaping the ultraviolet (UV)/optical - far-infrared (FIR)/submillimeter (submm) spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of normal (non-starburst) galaxies. Particular emphasis is placed on the influen ce of the geometry of dust and stars on the propagation of light through the int erstellar medium. Although strong constraints can be placed on the amount and la rge scale distribution of dust in disks from the appearance of the galaxies in t he optical/UV range, this dust does not account for the observed amplitude and c olour of the FIR/submm radiation. Additional, optically thick components of dust associated with the young stellar population on large and small scales are requ ired to account for the complete UV/optical - FIR/submm SEDs. Self-consistent mo dels for the calculation of SEDs of spiral galaxies are reviewed, and their pred ictions for the dust emission and the attenuation of starlight are compared and contrasted.