Merging galaxies in isolated environments I. Multiband photometry, classification, stellar masses, and star formation rates
Extragalactic surveys provide significant statistical data for the study of crucial galaxy parameters used to constrain galaxy evolution, e.g. stellar mass (M$_*$) and star formation rate (SFR), under different environmental conditions. These quantities are derived using manual or automatic methods for galaxy detection and flux measurement in imaging data at different wavelengths. The reliability of these automatic measurements, however, is subject to mis-identification and poor fitting due to the morphological irregularities present in resolved nearby galaxies (e.g. clumps, tidal disturbances, star-forming regions) and its environment (galaxies in overlap). Our aim is to provide accurate multi-wavelength photometry (from the UV to the IR, including GALEX, SDSS, and WISE) in a sample of $\sim$ 600 nearby (z<0.1) isolated mergers, as well as estimations of M$_*$ and SFR. We performed photometry following a semi-automated approach using SExtractor, confirming by visual inspection that we successfully extracted the light from the entire galaxy, including tidal tails and star-forming regions. We used the available SED fitting code MAGPHYS in order to estimate M$_*$ and SFR. We provide the first catalogue of isolated merging galaxies of galaxy mergers including aperture-corrected photometry in 11 bands (FUV, NUV, u, g, r, i, z, W1, W2, W3, and W4), morphological classification, merging stage, M$_*$, and SFR. We found that SFR and M$_*$ derived from automated catalogues can be wrong by up to three orders of magnitude as a result of incorrect photometry. Contrary to previous methods, our semi-automated method can reliably extract the flux of a merging system completely. Even when the SED fitting often smooths out some of the differences in the photometry, caution using automatic photometry is suggested as these measurements can lead to large differences in M$_*$ and SFR estimations.