Journal Article

Peculiar early-type galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Stripe82

Sugata Kaviraj

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 406, issue 1, pages 382-394
Published in print July 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Peculiar early-type galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Stripe82

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We explore the properties of ‘peculiar’ early-type galaxies (ETGs) in the local Universe that show (faint) morphological signatures of recent interactions such as tidal tails, shells and dust lanes. Standard-depth (∼51-s exposure) multicolour galaxy images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) are combined with the significantly (∼2 mag) deeper monochromatic images from the public SDSS Stripe82 to extract, through careful visual inspection, a robust sample of nearby (z < 0.05), luminous (Mr < −20.5) ETGs, including a subset of ∼70 peculiar systems. ∼18 per cent of ETGs exhibit signs of disturbed morphologies (e.g. shells), while ∼7 per cent show evidence of dust lanes and patches. An analysis of optical emission-line ratios indicates that the fraction of peculiar ETGs that are Seyferts or LINERs (19.4 per cent) is twice the corresponding values in their relaxed counterparts (10.1 per cent). LINER-like emission is the dominant type of nebular activity in all ETG classes, plausibly driven by stellar photoionization associated with recent star formation. An analysis of ultraviolet–optical colours indicates that, regardless of the luminosity range being considered, the fraction of peculiar ETGs that have experienced star formation in the last Gyr is a factor of ∼1.5 higher than that in their relaxed counterparts. The spectrophotometric results strongly suggest that the interactions that produce the morphological peculiarities also induce low-level recent star formation which, based on the recent literature, are likely to contribute a few per cent of the stellar mass over the last ∼1 Gyr. Peculiar ETGs preferentially inhabit low-density environments (outskirts of clusters, groups or the field), either due to high peculiar velocities in clusters making merging unlikely or because shell systems are disrupted through frequent interactions within a cluster crossing time. The catalogue of galaxies that forms the basis of this paper can be obtained at or on request from the author.

Keywords: galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: formation; galaxies: interactions; galaxies: peculiar

Journal Article.  6393 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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