We have initiated a search for extended ultraviolet disk (XUV-disk) galaxies in the local universe. Here we compare GALEX UV and visible-NIR images of 189 nearby (D<40 Mpc) S0-Sm galaxies included in the GALEX Atlas of Nearby Galaxies and present the first catalog of XUV-disk galaxies. We find that XUV-disk galaxies are surprisingly common but have varied relative (UV/optical) extent and morphology. Type 1 objects (>~20% incidence) have structured, UV-bright/optically faint emission features in the outer disk, beyond the traditional star formation threshold. Type 2 XUV-disk galaxies (~10% incidence) exhibit an exceptionally large, UV-bright/optically low surface brightness (LSB) zone having blue UV-Ks outside the effective extent of the inner, older stellar population, but not reaching extreme galactocentric distance. If the activity occurring in XUV-disks is episodic, a higher fraction of present-day spirals could be influenced by such outer disk star formation. Type 1 disks are associated with spirals of all types, whereas Type 2 XUV-disks are predominantly found in late-type spirals. Type 2 XUV-disks are forming stars quickly enough to double their (currently low) stellar mass in the next Gyr (assuming a constant star formation rate). XUV-disk galaxies of both types are systematically more gas-rich than the general galaxy population. Minor external perturbation may stimulate XUV-disk incidence, at least for Type 1 objects. XUV-disks are the most actively evolving galaxies growing via inside-out disk formation in the current epoch, and may constitute a segment of the galaxy population experiencing significant, continued gas accretion from the intergalactic medium or neighboring objects.
The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series
- Pub Date:
- December 2007
- Galaxies: Evolution;
- Ultraviolet: Galaxies;
- 83 pages, 16 figures, 2 tables. Appearing in the GALEX special issue of ApJS. (A version with high quality figures and proof corrections can be found at http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/toc/apjs/173/2)