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 Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.21344.x Abstract: The observed ultraviolet continuum (UVC) slope is potentially a powerful diagnostic of dust obscuration in star forming galaxies. However, the intrinsic slope is also sensitive to the form of the stellar initial mass function (IMF) and to the recent star formation and metal enrichment histories of a galaxy. Using the galform semi-analytical model of galaxy formation, we investigate the intrinsic distribution of UVC slopes. For star-forming galaxies, we find that the intrinsic distribution of UVC slopes at z=0, parameterised by the power law index beta, has a standard deviation of sigma_beta=0.30. This suggests an uncertainty on the inferred UV attenuation of A_fuv=0.7$(assuming a Calzetti attenuation curve) for an individual object, even with perfect photometry. Furthermore, we find that the intrinsic UVC slope correlates with star formation rate, intrinsic UV luminosity, stellar mass and redshift. These correlations have implications for the interpretation of trends in the observed UVC slope with these quantities irrespective of the sample size or quality of the photometry. Our results suggest that in some cases the attenuation by dust has been incorrectly estimated.  Physics , 2013, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201321519 Abstract: [abridged] Among the different observational techniques used to select high-redshift galaxies, the hydrogen recombination line Lyman-alpha (Lya) is of particular interest as it gives access to the measurement of cosmological quantities such as the star formation rate of distant galaxy populations. However, the interpretation of this line and the calibration of such observables is still subject to serious uncertainties. Therefore, it important to understand under what conditions the Lya line can be used as a reliable star formation diagnostic tool. We use a sample of 24 Lya emitters at z ~ 0.3 with an optical spectroscopic follow-up to calculate the Lya escape fraction and its dependency upon different physical properties. We also examine the reliability of Lya as a star formation rate indicator. We combine these observations with a compilation of Lya emitters selected at z = 0 - 0.3 to assemble a larger sample. The Lya escape fraction depends clearly on the dust extinction following the relation fesc(Lya) = C(Lya) x 10^(-0.4 E(B-V) k(Lya)), but with a shallower slope than previously reported, with k(Lya) ~ 6.67 and C(Lya) = 0.22. However, the correlation does not follow the expected curve for a simple dust attenuation. We explore the various mechanisms than lead to fesc(Lya) values above the continuum extinction curve, i.e. to an enhancement of the Lya output. We also observe that the strength of Lya and the escape fraction appear unrelated to the galaxy metallicity. Regarding the reliability of Lya as a star formation rate (SFR) indicator, we show that the deviation of SFR(Lya) from the true SFR (as traced by the UV continuum) is a function of the observed SFR(UV), which can be seen as the decrease of fesc(Lya) with increasing UV luminosity. Moreover, we observe a redshift-dependence of this relationship revealing the underlying evolution of fesc(Lya) with redshift.  Physics , 2013, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt096 Abstract: The observed UV continuum slope of star forming galaxies is strongly affected by the presence of dust. Its observation is then a potentially valuable diagnostic of dust attenuation, particularly at high-redshift where other diagnostics are currently inaccesible. Interpreting the observed UV continuum slope in the context of dust attenuation is often achieved assuming the empirically calibrated Meurer et al. (1999) relation. Implicit in this relation is the assumption of an intrinsic UV continuum slope ($\beta=-2.23$). However, results from numerical simulations suggest that the intrinsic UV continuum slopes of high-redshift star forming galaxies are bluer than this, and moreover vary with redshift. Using values of the intrinsic slope predicted by numerical models of galaxy formation combined with a Calzetti et al. (2000) reddening law we infer UV attenuations ($A_{1500}$)$0.35-0.5\,{\rm mag}$($A_{V}$:$0.14-0.2\,{\rm mag}$assuming Calzetti et al. 2000) greater than simply assuming the Meurer relation. This has significant implications for the inferred amount of dust attenuation at very-high ($z\approx 7$) redshift given current observational constraints on$\beta\$, combined with the Meurer relation, suggest dust attenuation to be virtually zero in all but the most luminous systems.