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

Source: arXiv


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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Available from: A. Mercurio, Nov 18, 2012