Measuring the integrated stellar halo light around galaxies is very challenging. The surface brightness of these haloes is expected to be many magnitudes below dark sky and the central brightness of the galaxy. Here, I show that in some of the recent literature the effect of very extended Point Spread Function (PSF) tails on the measurements of halo light has been underestimated; especially in the case of edge-on disc galaxies. The detection of a halo along the minor axis of an edge-on galaxy in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field can largely be explained by scattered galaxy light. Similarly, depending on filter and the shape one assumes for the uncertain extended PSF, 20–80 per cent of the halo light found along the minor axis of scaled and stacked Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) edge-on galaxy images can be explained by scattered galaxy light. Scattered light also significantly contributes to the anomalous halo colours of stacked SDSS images. The scattered light fraction decreases when looking in the quadrants away from the minor axis. The remaining excess light is well modelled with a Sérsic profile halo with shape parameters based on star count halo detections of nearby galaxies. Even though, the contribution from PSF scattered light does not fully remove the need for extended components around these edge-on galaxies, it will be very challenging to make accurate halo light shape and colour measurements from integrated light without very careful PSF measurements and scattered light modelling.
Keywords: methods: data analysis; galaxies: fundamental parameters; galaxies: haloes; galaxies: spiral; galaxies: structure
Journal Article. 6082 words. Illustrated.
Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics
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