Hubble Space Telescope ACS Imaging of the GOALS Sample: Quantitative Structural Properties of Nearby Luminous Infrared Galaxies with L IR > 1011.4 L

May 2013 • 2013ApJ...768..102K

Authors • Kim, D. -C. • Evans, A. S. • Vavilkin, T. • Armus, L. • Mazzarella, J. M. • Sheth, K. • Surace, J. A. • Haan, S. • Howell, J. H. • Díaz-Santos, T. • Petric, A. • Iwasawa, K. • Privon, G. C. • Sanders, D. B.

Abstract • A Hubble Space Telescope/Advanced Camera for Surveys study of the structural properties of 85 luminous and ultraluminous (L IR > 1011.4 L ) infrared galaxies (LIRGs and ULIRGs) in the Great Observatories All-sky LIRG Survey (GOALS) sample is presented. Two-dimensional GALFIT analysis has been performed on F814W "I-band" images to decompose each galaxy, as appropriate, into bulge, disk, central point-spread function (PSF) and stellar bar components. The fraction of bulge-less disk systems is observed to be higher in LIRGs (35%) than in ULIRGs (20%), with the disk+bulge systems making up the dominant fraction of both LIRGs (55%) and ULIRGs (45%). Further, bulge+disk systems are the dominant late-stage merger galaxy type and are the dominant type for LIRGs and ULIRGs at almost every stage of galaxy-galaxy nuclear separation. The mean I-band host absolute magnitude of the GOALS galaxies is -22.64 ± 0.62 mag (1.8^{+1.4}_{-0.4} L^*_I), and the mean bulge absolute magnitude in GOALS galaxies is about 1.1 mag fainter than the mean host magnitude. Almost all ULIRGs have bulge magnitudes at the high end (-20.6 to -23.5 mag) of the GOALS bulge magnitude range. Mass ratios in the GOALS binary systems are consistent with most of the galaxies being the result of major mergers, and an examination of the residual-to-host intensity ratios in GOALS binary systems suggests that smaller companions suffer more tidal distortion than the larger companions. We find approximately twice as many bars in GOALS disk+bulge systems (32.8%) than in pure-disk mergers (15.9%) but most of the disk+bulge systems that contain bars are disk-dominated with small bulges. The bar-to-host intensity ratio, bar half-light radius, and bar ellipticity in GOALS galaxies are similar to those found in nearby spiral galaxies. The fraction of stellar bars decreases toward later merger stages and smaller nuclear separations, indicating that bars are destroyed as the merger advances. In contrast, the fraction of nuclear PSFs increases toward later merger stages and is highest in late-stage systems with a single nucleus. Thus, light from an active galactic nucleus or compact nuclear star cluster is more visible at I band as ULIRGs enter their latter stages of evolution. Finally, both GOALS elliptical hosts and nearby Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) ellipticals occupy the same part of the surface brightness versus half-light radius plot (i.e., the "Kormendy Relation") and have similar slopes, consistent with the possibility that the GOALS galaxies belong to the same parent population as the SDSS ellipticals.

Based on observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract No. NAS5-26555.


IPAC Authors


Lee Armus

Senior Scientist

Joe Mazzarella

Senior Scientist