Journal Article

A high-resolution atlas of composite Sloan Digital Sky Survey galaxy spectra

László Dobos, István Csabai, Ching-Wa Yip, Tamás Budavári, Vivienne Wild and Alexander S. Szalay

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 420, issue 2, pages 1217-1238
Published in print February 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
A high-resolution atlas of composite Sloan Digital Sky Survey galaxy spectra

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In this work we present an atlas of composite spectra of galaxies based on the data of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 7 (SDSS DR7). Galaxies are classified by colour, nuclear activity and star formation activity to calculate average spectra of high signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) and resolution ( at Δλ= 1 Å), using an algorithm that is robust against outliers. Besides composite spectra, we also compute the first five principal components of the distributions in each galaxy class to characterize the nature of variations of individual spectra around the averages. The continua of the composite spectra are fitted with BC03 stellar population synthesis models to extend the wavelength coverage beyond the coverage of the SDSS spectrographs. Common derived parameters of the composites are also calculated: integrated colours in the most popular filter systems, line-strength measurements and continuum absorption indices (including Lick indices). These derived parameters are compared with the distributions of parameters of individual galaxies, and it is shown on many examples that the composites of the atlas cover much of the parameter space spanned by SDSS galaxies. By co-adding thousands of spectra, a total integration time of several months can be reached, which results in extremely low noise composites. The variations in redshift not only allow for extending the spectral coverage bluewards to the original wavelength limit of the SDSS spectrographs, but also make higher spectral resolution achievable. The composite spectrum atlas is available online at

Keywords: methods: statistical; techniques: spectroscopic; atlases; surveys; galaxies: statistics

Journal Article.  7592 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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