Shape asymmetry : a morphological indicator for automatic detection of galaxies in the post-coalescence merger stages
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We present a new morphological indicator designed for automated recognition of galaxies with faint asymmetric tidal features suggestive of an ongoing or past merger. We use the new indicator, together with pre-existing diagnostics of galaxy structure to study the role of galaxy mergers in inducing (post-) starburst spectral signatures in local galaxies, and investigate whether (post-) starburst galaxies play a role in the build-up of the ‘red sequence’. Our morphological and structural analysis of an evolutionary sample of 335 (post-) starburst galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey DR7 with starburst ages 0 < tSB < 0.6 Gyr, shows that 45 per cent of galaxies with young starbursts (tSB < 0.1 Gyr) show signatures of an ongoing or past merger. This fraction declines with starburst age, and we find a good agreement between automated and visual classifications. The majority of the oldest (post-) starburst galaxies in our sample (tSB ∼ 0.6 Gyr) have structural properties characteristic of early-type discs and are not as highly concentrated as the fully quenched galaxies commonly found on the ‘red sequence’ in the present day Universe. This suggests that, if (post-) starburst galaxies are a transition phase between active star-formation and quiescence, they do not attain the structure of presently quenched galaxies within the first 0.6 Gyr after the starburst.
Pawlik , M , Wild , V , Walcher , C J , Johansson , P H , Villforth , C , Rowlands , K E , Mendez Abreu , J & Hewlett , T 2016 , ' Shape asymmetry : a morphological indicator for automatic detection of galaxies in the post-coalescence merger stages ' Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society , vol 456 , no. 3 , pp. 3032-3052 . DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv2878
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
© 2015 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the final published version of the work, which was originally published at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stv2878
MMP and VW acknowledge support from the European Career Reintegration Grant Phiz-Ev (P.I. VW). VW, KR and JM-A acknowledge support from the European Research Council Starting Grant SEDMorph (P.I. VW). CJW acknowledges support through the Marie Curie Career Integration Grant 303912. PHJ acknowledges the support of the Academy of Finland grant 1274931.
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