The spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of galaxies are shaped by nearly every physical property of the system, including the star-formation history, metal content, abundance pattern, dust mass, grain size distribution, star-dust geometry, and interstellar radiation field. The principal goal of stellar population synthesis (SPS) is to extract these variables from observed SEDs. In this review I provide an overview of the SPS technique and discuss what can be reliably measured from galaxy SEDs. Topics include stellar masses, star-formation rates and histories, metallicities and abundance patterns, dust properties, and the stellar initial mass function.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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