EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 392, Number 3, September IV 2002
Page(s) 807 - 816
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20020994

A&A 392, 807-816 (2002)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20020994

Outer edges of face-on spiral galaxies

Deep optical imaging of NGC 5923, UGC 9837 and NGC 5434
M. Pohlen1, 2, R.-J. Dettmar1, R. Lütticke3, 1 and G. Aronica1

1  Astronomisches Institut der Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany
2  Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
3  Department of Computer Science, FernUniversität Hagen, 58084 Hagen, Germany

(Received 15 May 2002 / Accepted 20 June 2002)

We present deep optical imaging of three face-on disk galaxies together with a detailed description of the reduction and calibration methods used, in order to measure the intrinsic shape of their outer stellar edges. Whereas it is now well accepted that disks of spiral galaxies are not infinite exponential beyond galactocentric distances of about 3-5 radial scalelengths, the genuine structure of the truncation region is not yet well known. Our data quantitatively establish a smooth truncation behaviour of the radial surface brightness profiles and is best described by a two-slope model, characterised by an inner and outer exponential scalelength separated at a relatively well defined break radius. This result disagrees with the frequently assumed sharply truncated nature of the radial surface brightness profiles and implies the presence of stars and even star-formation beyond the break radius. In addition, we do not find a strong influence of a nearby companion on the ratio of the break radius to the radial scalelength. Our results denote new observational constraints for the search of the physical explanation for these smooth disk truncations.

Key words: galaxies: spiral -- galaxies: fundamental parameters -- galaxies: structure -- galaxies: individual: NGC 5923, UGC 9837, NGC 5434

Offprint request: M. Pohlen, pohlen@ll.iac.es

SIMBAD Objects in preparation

© ESO 2002