EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 456, Number 1, September II 2006
Page(s) 91 - 95
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20065026

A&A 456, 91-95 (2006)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20065026

Isolated galaxies: residual of primordial building blocks?

G. Galletta1, G. Rodighiero1, D. Bettoni2, M. Moles3 and J. Varela2

1  Dipartimento di Astronomia, Università di Padova, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio 2, 35122, Padova, Italy
    e-mail: giuseppe.galletta@unipd.it
2  INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio 5, 35122, Padova, Italy
    e-mail: bettoni@pd.astro.it,
    e-mail: jesus.varela@oapd.inaf.it
3  Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (C.S.I.C.) Apartado 3004, 18080 Granada, Spain
    e-mail: moles@iaa.es

(Received 15 February 2006 / Accepted 25 April 2006)

Context.The mass assembly is believed to be the dominant process of early galaxy formation. This mechanism of galaxy building can proceed either by repeated major mergers with other systems, or by means of accretion of matter from the surrounding regions.
Aims.In this paper we compare the properties of local disk galaxies that appear isolated, i.e., not tidally affected by other galaxies during the last few Gyr within the volume given by $cz\le 5000$ km s-1, with those galaxies at z values from 0.25 to 5.
Methods.Effective radii for 203 isolated galaxies and 1645 galaxies from the RC3 have been collected and the two samples have been analyzed statistically. A similar comparison has been made with half light radii studied at high z from the literature.
Results.We found that isolated galaxies are, in general, smaller than other present epoch galaxies from the RC3. We notice the lack of systems larger than 7 kpc among them. Their size distribution appears to be similar to that of galaxies at $1.4 \leq z \leq 2$. The models of the merging history also indicate that the isolated galaxies did stop their merging process at about that redshift, evolving passively since then. The galaxy density seems to have remained unchanged since that epoch
Conclusions.Isolated galaxies appear to be the end products of the merging process, as proposed by the hierarchical accretion scenario at around z=1.4. For this class of galaxies, this was the last significant merging event in their lives, and they have evolved passively since then. This is confirmed by the analytical estimate of the merging fraction with z and by the comparison with sizes of distant galaxies.

Key words: galaxies: formation -- galaxies: evolution -- galaxies: high-redshift -- galaxies: spiral

© ESO 2006