Context. According to numerical simulations, stars are not always kept at their birth galactocentric distances but they have a tendency to migrate. The importance of this radial migration in shaping galactic light distributions is still unclear. However, if radial migration is indeed important, galaxies with different surface brightness (SB) profiles must display differences in their stellar population properties.
Aims: We investigate the role of radial migration in the light distribution and radial stellar content by comparing the inner colour, age, and metallicity gradients for galaxies with different SB profiles. We define these inner parts, avoiding the bulge and bar regions and up to around three disc scale lengths (type I, pure exponential) or the break radius (type II, downbending; type III, upbending).
Methods: We analysed 214 spiral galaxies from the CALIFA survey covering different SB profiles. We made use of GASP2D and SDSS data to characterise the light distribution and obtain colour profiles of these spiral galaxies. The stellar age and metallicity profiles were computed using a methodology based on full-spectrum fitting techniques (pPXF, GANDALF, and STECKMAP) to the Integral Field Spectroscopic CALIFA data.
Results: The distributions of the colour, stellar age, and stellar metallicity gradients in the inner parts for galaxies displaying different SB profiles are unalike as suggested by Kolmogorov-Smirnov and Anderson-Darling tests. We find a trend in which type II galaxies show the steepest profiles of all, type III show the shallowest, and type I display an intermediate behaviour.
Conclusions: These results are consistent with a scenario in which radial migration is more efficient for type III galaxies than for type I systems, where type II galaxies present the lowest radial migration efficiency. In such a scenario, radial migration mixes the stellar content, thereby flattening the radial stellar properties and shaping different SB profiles. However, in light of these results we cannot further quantify the importance of radial migration in shaping spiral galaxies, and other processes, such as recent star formation or satellite accretion, might play a role.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- July 2017
- galaxies: stellar content;
- galaxies: spiral;
- galaxies: evolution;
- galaxies: formation;
- galaxies: structure;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 30 pages, 6 figures, 10 tables. Accepted for publication in A&