MUSE stares into the shadows: the high-resolution dust attenuation curve of NGC 5626
The newest generation of integral field unit spectrographs brings three-dimensional mapping of nearby galaxies one step closer. While the focus up to this point was mostly on stars and ionized gas, it is also possible to look at dust in a new, more complete way. Using MUSE science verification observations of NGC 5626, we map the interstellar matter in this dusty lenticular. We use the resolving power of MUSE to measure the optical attenuation with a spectral resolution of 6.25 Å, at physical scales of 0.1-1 kpc. The integrated attenuation curve of NGC 5626 shows a smooth, slightly steeper than Milky Way and SMC attenuation curves. Several sharp features are superimposed: we measure lower attenuation at spectral emission lines and higher attenuation for the sodium line doublet. No correlation was observed between sodium line strength and reddening by dust on spatially resolved scales. Additionally, the continuum attenuation was found to be independent from the Balmer decrement (tracing ionized gas attenuation). We model and interpret the variations in the attenuation curves of each spatial resolution element of NGC 5626. We find that the amount and distribution of dust along the line of sight is highly degenerate with any variation in the intrinsic extinction law. Our analysis shows that the interstellar matter in NGC 5626 resides in a regular and well-settled disc. Our results preach caution in the application of simple recipes to de-redden global galaxy spectra and underlines the need for more realistic dust geometries when constructing such correction formulas.