Galaxy concentrations are trimodal Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We have analysed the distribution of inclination-corrected galaxy concentrations in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. We find that unlike most galaxy properties, which are distributed bimodally, the distribution of concentrations is trimodal: it exhibits three distinct peaks. The newly-discovered intermediate peak, which consists of early-type spirals and lenticulars, may contain ~60% of the number density and ~50% of the luminosity density of M_r < -17 galaxies in the local universe. These galaxies are generally red and quiescent, although the distribution contains a tail of blue star-forming galaxies and also shows evidence of dust. The intermediate-type galaxies have higher apparent ellipticities than either disc or elliptical galaxies, most likely because some of the face-on intermediate types are misidentified as ellipticals. Their physical half-light radii are smaller than the radii of either the disc or elliptical galaxies, which may be evidence that they form from disc fading. The existence of a distinct peak in parameter space associated with early-type spiral galaxies and lenticulars implies that they have a distinct formation mechanism and are not simply the smooth transition between disc-dominated and spheroid-dominated galaxies.

publication date

  • April 2008