A. Pizzella

University of Padova, Padua, Veneto, Italy

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Publications (147)250.17 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We present a spectral decomposition technique and its applications to a sample of galaxies hosting large-scale counter-rotating stellar disks. Our spectral decomposition technique allows to separate and measure the kinematics and the properties of the stellar populations of both the two counter-rotating disks in the observed galaxies at the same time. Our results provide new insights on the epoch and mechanism of formation of these galaxies.
    02/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The nuclei of galaxies often host small stellar discs with scale-lengths of a few tens of parsecs and luminosities up to 10^7 Lsun. To investigate the formation and properties of nuclear stellar discs (NSDs), we look for their presence in a set of N-body simulations studying the dissipationless merging of multiple star clusters in galactic nuclei. A few tens of star clusters with sizes and masses comparable to those of globular clusters observed in the Milky Way are accreted onto a pre-existing nuclear stellar component: either a massive super star cluster or a rapidly rotating, compact disc with a scale-length of a few parsecs, mimicing the variety of observed nuclear structures. Images and kinematic maps of the simulation time-steps are then built and analysed as if they were real and at the distance of the Virgo cluster. We use the Scorza-Bender method to search for the presence of disc structures via photometric decomposition. In one case the merger remnant has all the observed photometric and kinematic properties of NSDs observed in real galaxies. This shows that current observations are consistent with most of the NSD mass being assembled from the migration and accretion of star clusters into the galactic centre. In the other simulation instead, we detect an elongated structure from the unsharp masked image, that does not develop the photometric or kinematic signature of a NSD. Thus, in the context of searches for a disc structure, the Scorza-Bender method is a robust and necessary tool.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 05/2013; 433(1). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a new technique to quantify the light contribution coming from the faint high redshift ($z\sim6$) galaxies below the detection threshold of imaging data, set conventionally at S/N=4.5. We illustrate the technique with an application to Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys images in the F775W and F850LP filters of the Ultra Deep Field parallel field NICP12. The aim of this analysis is to extend by a few magnitudes the faint end of the luminosity function at $z\sim6$. After masking all the detected sources in the field we apply a Fast Fourier Transform to obtain the spatial power spectrum of the background signal. The power spectrum permits us to separate the background noise signal, the residuals due to the data reduction of the wide field, and the overall signal produced by faint galaxies. The ratio of the signal in the i_775 and z_850 bands is used to estimate the contribution of the faint i-dropout objects. We rely on extensive Monte Carlo simulations to characterize various sources of uncertainty and quantify the number of faint i-dropout galaxies in the field. The analysis allows us to put constraints on the luminosity function at $z\sim6$ down to z_850= 30 mag, 2.5 mag fainter than with standard techniques on the same data. The data are consistent with a faint end slope of the luminosity function of $\alpha = -1.9$. Assuming a specific set of values for the clumping factor, escape fraction, and spectral energy distribution, we find that the $z\sim6$ undetected galaxies down to z_850=30 mag could have driven cosmic reionization.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 04/2013; 432(4). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: All the sample galaxies were selected to be spiral galaxies with a bulge and a LSB disc. Six of these were taken from Paper I (Cat. J/MNRAS/387/1099), and their broad-band images and long-slit spectra were already available to us. Therefore, we refer to Paper I (Cat. J/MNRAS/387/1099) for a detailed description of the photometric and kinematic data that we use in this paper to measure the line-strength indices of these galaxies. In addition, two more late-type spirals were taken from the catalogue of candidate LSB galaxies by Impey et al. (1996, Cat. J/ApJS/105/209). The photometric and spectroscopic observations of PGC 26148 and PGC 37759 were carried out with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) at the Paranal Observatory on 2006 March 23-25 and 2008 February 17-18. (3 data files).
    VizieR Online Data Catalog. 04/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The near-infrared (NIR) wavelength range offers some unique spectral features, and it is less prone to the extinction than the optical one. Recently, the first flux calibrated NIR library of cool stars from the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) have become available, and it has not been fully exploited yet. We want to develop spectroscopic diagnostics for stellar physical parameters based on features in the wavelength range 1-5um. In this work we test the technique in the I and K bands. The study of the Y, J, H, and L bands will be presented in the following paper. An objective method for semi-empirical definition of spectral features sensitive to various physical parameters is applied to the spectra. It is based on sensitivity map - i.e., derivative of the flux in the spectra with respect to the stellar parameters at a fixed wavelength. New optimized indices are defined and their equivalent widths (EWs) are measured. (6 data files).
    VizieR Online Data Catalog. 04/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The near-infrared (NIR) wavelength range offers some unique spectral features, and it is less prone to the extinction than the optical one. Recently, the first flux calibrated NIR library of cool stars from the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) have become available, and it has not been fully exploited yet. We want to develop spectroscopic diagnostics for stellar physical parameters based on features in the wavelength range 1-5 micron. In this work we test the technique in the I and K bands. The study of the Y, J, H, and L bands will be presented in the following paper. An objective method for semi-empirical definition of spectral features sensitive to various physical parameters is applied to the spectra. It is based on sensitivity map--i.e., derivative of the flux in the spectra with respect to the stellar parameters at a fixed wavelength. New optimized indices are defined and their equivalent widths (EWs) are measured. A number of sensitive features to the effective temperature and surface gravity are re-identified or newly identified clearly showing the reliability of the sensitivity map analysis. The sensitivity map allows to identify the best bandpass limits for the line and nearby continuum. It reliably predicts the trends of spectral features with respect to a given physical parameter but not their absolute strengths. Line blends are easy to recognize when blended features have different behavior with respect to some physical stellar parameter. The use of sensitivity map is therefore complementary to the use of indices. We give the EWs of the new indices measured for the IRTF star sample. This new and homogeneous set of EWs will be useful for stellar population synthesis models and can be used to get element-by-element abundances for unresolved stellar population studies in galaxies.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 11/2012; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of integral-field spectroscopic observations of the two disk galaxies NGC 3593 and NGC 4550 obtained with VIMOS/VLT. Both galaxies are known to host 2 counter-rotating stellar disks, with the ionized gas co-rotating with one of them. We measured in each galaxy the ionized gas kinematics and metallicity, and the surface brightness, kinematics, mass surface density, and the stellar populations of the 2 stellar components to constrain the formation scenario of these peculiar galaxies. We applied a novel spectroscopic decomposition technique to both galaxies, to separate the relative contribution of the 2 counter-rotating stellar and one ionized-gas components to the observed spectrum. We measured the kinematics and the line strengths of the Lick indices of the 2 counter-rotating stellar components. We modeled the data of each stellar component with single stellar population models that account for the alpha/Fe overabundance. In both galaxies we successfully separated the main from the secondary stellar component that is less massive and rotates in the same direction of the ionized-gas component. The 2 stellar components have exponential surface-brightness profiles. In both galaxies, the two counter-rotating stellar components have different stellar populations: the secondary stellar disk is younger, more metal poor, and more alpha-enhanced than the main galaxy stellar disk. Our findings rule out an internal origin of the secondary stellar component and favor a scenario where it formed from gas accreted on retrograde orbits from the environment fueling an in situ outside-in rapid star formation. The event occurred ~ 2 Gyr ago in NGC 3593, and ~ 7 Gyr ago in NGC 4550. The binary galaxy merger scenario cannot be ruled out, and a larger sample is required to statistically determine which is the most efficient mechanism to build counter-rotating stellar disks (abridged).
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 10/2012; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CBET 3228 available at Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams.
    Central Bureau Electronic Telegrams. 09/2012; 3228:1.
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    ABSTRACT: CBET 3226 available at Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams.
    Central Bureau Electronic Telegrams. 09/2012; 3226:1.
  • Central Bureau Electronic Telegrams. 09/2012; 3227:2.
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    ABSTRACT: CBET 3231 available at Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams.
    Central Bureau Electronic Telegrams. 09/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: The radial profiles of the age, metallicity and α/Fe enhancement of the stellar populations in the bulge-dominated region for a sample of eight spiral galaxies with low surface-brightness stellar discs and bulges are presented. Almost all the sample bulges are characterised by young stellar populations, solar α/Fe enhancements and metallicities spanning from high to sub-solar values. No significant gradient in age and α/Fe enhancement is measured, whereas a negative metallicity gradient is found in a few cases. The stellar populations of the bulges hosted by low surface-brightness discs share many properties with those of high surface-brightness galaxies and are therefore likely to have common formation scenarios and evolution histories.
    The Messenger. 09/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this work is to make available new gas-phase oxygen abundance measurements for a serendipitous sample of 27 galaxies with redshift 0.35<z<0.52. We measured the equivalent widths of the [O II]{\lambda}3727, H{\beta}, and [O III]{\lambda}{\lambda}4959, 5007 emission lines observed in the galaxy spectra obtained with the Visible Multi-Object Spectrograph mounted at the Very Large Telescope. For each galaxy, we derived the metallicity-sensitive emission lines ratio R23, ionization-sensitive emission lines ratio O32, and gas-phase oxygen abundance 12+log(O/H). The values of gas-phase oxygen abundance 12+log(O/H) we obtained for the sample galaxies are consistent with previous findings for galaxies at intermediate redshift.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 06/2012; · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The early-type spiral NGC 4698 is known to host a nuclear disc of gas and stars which is rotating perpendicularly with respect to the galaxy main disc. In addition, the bulge and main disc are characterised by a remarkable geometrical decoupling. Indeed they appear elongated orthogonally to each other. In this work the complex structure of the galaxy is investigated by a detailed photometric decomposition of optical and near-infrared images. The intrinsic shape of the bulge was constrained from its apparent ellipticity, its twist angle with respect to the major axis of the main disc, and the inclination of the main disc. The bulge is actually elongated perpendicular to the main disc and it is equally likely to be triaxial or axisymmetric. The central surface brightness, scalelength, inclination, and position angle of the nuclear disc were derived by assuming it is infinitesimally thin and exponential. Its size, orientation, and location do not depend on the observed passband. These findings support a scenario in which the nuclear disc is the end result of the acquisition of external gas by the pre-existing triaxial bulge on the principal plane perpendicular to its shortest axis and perpendicular to the galaxy main disc. The subsequent star formation either occurred homogeneously all over the extension of the nuclear disc or through an inside-out process that ended more than 5 Gyr ago.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 04/2012; 423(1). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The radial profiles of the Hb, Mg, and Fe line-strength indices are presented for a sample of eight spiral galaxies with a low surface-brightness stellar disc and a bulge. The correlations between the central values of the line-strength indices and velocity dispersion are consistent to those known for early-type galaxies and bulges of high surface-brightness galaxies. The age, metallicity, and alpha/Fe enhancement of the stellar populations in the bulge-dominated region are obtained using stellar population models with variable element abundance ratios. Almost all the sample bulges are characterized by a young stellar population, on-going star formation, and a solar alpha/Fe enhancement. Their metallicity spans from high to sub-solar values. No significant gradient in age and alpha/Fe enhancement is measured, whereas only in a few cases a negative metallicity gradient is found. These properties suggest that a pure dissipative collapse is not able to explain formation of all the sample bulges and that other phenomena, like mergers or acquisition events, need to be invoked. Such a picture is also supported by the lack of a correlation between the central value and gradient of the metallicity in bulges with very low metallicity. The stellar populations of the bulges hosted by low surface-brightness discs share many properties with those of high surface-brightness galaxies. Therefore, they are likely to have common formation scenarios and evolution histories. A strong interplay between bulges and discs is ruled out by the fact that in spite of being hosted by discs with extremely different properties, the bulges of low and high surface-brightness discs are remarkably similar.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 03/2012; 423(1). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have investigated the stellar light distribution and the rotation curves of high-luminosity spiral galaxies in the local Universe. The sample contains 30 high-quality extended H alpha and HI rotation curves. The stellar disk scale-length of these objects was measured or taken from the literature. We find that in the outermost parts of the stellar disks of these massive objects, the rotation curves agree with the Universal Rotation Curve (Salucci et al. 2007), however a few rotation curves of the sample show a divergence.
    Astronomische Nachrichten 10/2011; 332(8). · 1.40 Impact Factor
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    I. A. Yegorova, A. Pizzella, P. Salucci
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of a pilot project designed to study the distribution of dark matter haloes out to very large radii in spiral galaxies. As dynamical probe we use their rotation curves and the motions population of satellite galaxies. In this pilot stage, we observed seven late-type spiral galaxies of about the same luminosity M_R ~ -22 (and approximately the same mass). We investigate the kinematics of these galaxies, and the radial and angular distribution of their satellites. Using VIMOS at the VLT, we carried out a spectroscopic survey in seven 14' x 14' fields each around a late-type isolated spiral galaxy. We obtained radial velocities and spatial distributions for 77 candidate satellites. After removing the interlopers, we are left with 61 true satellites. In combination with the rotation curves of the primary galaxies, satellites are used to probe the gravitational potential of the primaries and derive the dark matter halo properties by means of standard mass modeling techniques. We find (a) that the dark matter haloes of luminous spirals (M_R ~ -22) have virial radii of ~400 kpc and virial masses of 3.5 x 10^12 Msun; (b) that the radial velocity and angular distributions of the satellites around the primaries are isotropic; and (c) that the resulting mass distribution is in good agreement with that found in the optical regions of spirals and described by the universal rotation curve of spirals once extrapolated to large radii. The results obtained in this pilot phase of the project are already interesting and limited only by small number statistics. The full project involving an order of magnitude more targets, would very likely provide us with a definitive picture of the dark matter distribution around spirals out to their virial radii and beyond.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 06/2011; 532. · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • I. A. Yegorova, A. Pizzella, P. Salucci
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    ABSTRACT: Using VIMOS (VLT) we carried out a spectroscopic survey around seven late-type spiral galaxies and we discovered 55 satellites. After obtaining the radial velocities and spatial distribution of the satellites, we analyze their properties.
    EAS Publications Series 01/2011; 48:363-364.
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    ABSTRACT: Secure measurements of the mass of the central supermassive black hole, MBH, in external galaxies are traditionally obtained through the modeling of the stellar and/or gaseous kinematics, most often derived using Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations in the optical domain. The modeling of the nuclear ionized-gas kinematics has led to accurate MBH measurements at a relatively cheap cost in terms of observation time compared to stellar-dynamical MBH determinations. But only a handful of the objects have turned out to have sufficiently regular gas velocity fields for the purpose of modeling. Nevertheless, the HST archive contains a yet untapped resource that can be used to better constrain the MBH budget across the different morphological types of galaxies, which consists of the vast number of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) spectra from which a central emission-line width can be measured. These data allow to put an upper limit on MBH for a large number of galaxies and promise to compensate for the lack of exact measurements when studying the MBH-host galaxy relationships.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 05/2010; 5(S267):200-200.
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    ABSTRACT: Small and bright stellar disks with scale lengths of few tens of parsec are known to reside in the center of galaxies. They are believed to have formed in a dissipational process as the end result of star formation in gas either accreted in a merging (or acquisition) event or piled up by the secular evolution of a nuclear bar. Only few of them have been studied in detail to date. Using archival Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging, we investigated the photometric parameters of the nuclear stellar disks hosted by three early-type galaxies in the Virgo cluster, NGC 4458, NGC4478, and NGC4570. We aimed at constraining the process of formation of their stars. The central surface brightness, scale length, inclination, and position angle of the nuclear disks were derived by adopting the photometric decomposition method introduced by Scorza & Bender and assuming the disks to be infinitesimally thin and exponential. The location, orientation, and size of the nuclear disks is the same in all the images obtained with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and Advanced Camera for Survey and available in the HST Science Archive. The scale length, inclination, and position angle of each disk are constant within the errors in the observed U, B, V, and I passbands, independently of their values and of the properties of the host spheroid. We interpret the absence of color gradients in the stellar population of the nuclear disks as the signature that star formation homogeneously occurred all through their extension. A inside-out formation scenario is, instead, expected to produce color gradients and therefore is ruled out. Comment: 10 pages, 7 postscript figures. A&A in press
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 04/2010; · 5.08 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

569 Citations
250.17 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2000–2012
    • University of Padova
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy "Galileo Galilei"
      Padua, Veneto, Italy
  • 2011
    • The Astronomical Observatory of Brera
      Merate, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2008
    • Universidad de La Laguna
      San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Canary Islands, Spain
  • 2003
    • Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias
      San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Canary Islands, Spain
  • 1998–2001
    • University of Santiago, Chile
      CiudadSantiago, Santiago, Chile
  • 1996
    • Ghent University
      Gand, Flanders, Belgium