Journal Article

Colour gradients within SDSS DR7 galaxies: hints of recent evolution

V. Gonzalez-Perez, F. J. Castander and G. Kauffmann

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 411, issue 2, pages 1151-1166
Published in print February 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online February 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.17744.x
Colour gradients within SDSS DR7 galaxies: hints of recent evolution

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The evolutionary path followed by a galaxy shapes its internal structure, and, in particular, its internal colour variation. We present a study of the internal colour variation within galaxies from the Seventh Data Release of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS DR7). We statistically study the connection between the internal colour variation and global galactic properties, looking for hints of the recent galactic evolution. Considering only galaxies with good photometry and spectral measurements, we define four luminosity-threshold samples within the redshift range 0.01 < z < 0.17, each containing more than 48 000 galaxies. Colour gradients are calculated for these galaxies from the surface brightness measurements provided by the SDSS DR7. Possible systematic effects in their determination have been analysed. We find that, on average, galaxies have redder cores than their external parts. We also find that it is more likely to find steep colour gradients among late-type galaxies. This result holds for a range of classifications based on both morphological and spectral characteristics. In fact, our results relate, on average, steep colour gradients to a higher presence of young stars within a galaxy. Our results also suggest that nuclear activity is a marginal driver for creating steep colour gradients in massive galaxies. We have selected pairs of interacting galaxies, with a separation of 5 arcmin, in projected radius, and a difference in redshift of 100 km s−1, finding that they present steeper gradients than the average population, skewed towards bluer cores. Our analysis implies that colour gradients can be useful for selecting galaxies that have suffered a recent (minor) burst of star formation.

Keywords: galaxies: fundamental parameters; galaxies: statistics; galaxies: structure

Journal Article.  13901 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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