The Environmental Dependencies of Star-formation and the Origin of the Bimodality in Galaxy Properties

Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT We examine the origins of the bimodality observed in the global properties of galaxies by comparing the environmental dependencies of star-formation for giant and dwarf galaxy populations. Using Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) DR4 spectroscopic data to create a volume-limited sample complete to M*+3, we find that the environmental dependences of giant and dwarf galaxies are quite different, implying fundamental differences in their evolution. Whereas the star-formation histories of giant galaxies are determined primarily by their merger history, resulting in passively-evolving giant galaxies being found in all environments, we show that this is not the case for dwarf galaxies. In particular, we find that old or passive dwarf galaxies are only found as satellites within massive halos (clusters, groups or giant galaxies), with none in the lowest density regions. This implies that star-formation in dwarf galaxies must be much more resilient to the effects of mergers, and that the evolution of dwarf galaxies is primarily driven by the mass of their host halo, through effects such as suffocation, ram-pressure stripping or galaxy harassment.

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    ABSTRACT: We present the Shapley Optical Survey, a photometric study covering a 2 deg^2 region of the Shapley Supercluster core at z ~ 0.05 in two bands (B and R). The galaxy sample is complete to B=22.5 (>M^*+6, N_{gal}=16588), and R=22.0 (>M^*+7, N_{gal}=28008). The galaxy luminosity function cannot be described by a single Schechter function due to dips apparent at B ~ 17.5 (M_B ~ -19.3) and R ~ 17.0 (M_R ~ -19.8) and the clear upturn in the counts for galaxies fainter than B and R ~18 mag. We find, instead, that the sum of a Gaussian and a Schechter function, for bright and faint galaxies respectively, is a suitable representation of the data. We study the effects of the environment on the photometric properties of galaxies, deriving the galaxy luminosity functions in three regions selected according to the local galaxy density, and find a marked luminosity segregation, in the sense that the LF faint-end is different at more than 3sigma confidence level in regions with different densities. In addition, the luminosity functions of red and blue galaxy populations show very different behaviours: while red sequence counts are very similar to those obtained for the global galaxy population, the blue galaxy luminosity functions are well described by a single Schechter function and do not vary with the density. Such large environmentally-dependent deviations from a single Schechter function are difficult to produce solely within galaxy merging or suffocation scenarios. Instead the data support the idea that mechanisms related to the cluster environment, such as galaxy harassment or ram-pressure stripping, shape the galaxy LFs by terminating star-formation and producing mass loss in galaxies at \~M^*+2, a magnitude range where blue late-type spirals used to dominate cluster populations, but are now absent. Comment: 23 pages, 13 figures, MNRAS accepted
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 12/2005; · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present an analysis of the effects of environment on the photometric properties of galaxies in the core of the Shapley Supercluster at z=0.05, one of the most massive structures in the local universe. The Shapley Optical Survey (SOS) comprises archive WFI optical imaging of a 2.0 deg^2 region containing the rich clusters A3556, A3558 and A3562 which demonstrate a highly complex dynamical situation including ongoing cluster mergers. The B-R/R colour-magnitude relation has an intrinsic dispersion of 0.045 mag and is 0.015\pm0.005 mag redder in the highest-density regions, indicative of the red sequence galaxy population being 500 Myr older in the cluster cores than towards the virial radius. The B-R colours of galaxies are dependent on their environment, whereas their luminosities are independent of the local density, except for the very brightest galaxies (M_R<-22). The global colours of faint (>M*+2) galaxies change from the cluster cores where ~90% of galaxies lie along the cluster red sequence to the virial radius, where the fraction has dropped to just ~20%. This suggests that processes related to the supercluster environment are responsible for transforming faint galaxies, rather than galaxy merging, which should be infrequent in any of the regions studied here. The largest concentrations of faint blue galaxies are found between the clusters, coincident with regions containing high fractions of ~L* galaxies with radio emission indicating starbursts. Their location suggests star-formation triggered by cluster mergers, in particular the merger of A3562 and the poor cluster SC1329-313, although they may also represent recent arrivals in the supercluster core complex. (abstract truncated) Comment: 13 pages, 8 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 06/2006; · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2006; · 6.73 Impact Factor

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