New insights to the photometric structure of Blue Compact Dwarf galaxies from deep Near-Infrared studies*,**
I. Observations, surface photometry and decomposition of surface brightness profiles
Universitäts–Sternwarte, Geismarlandstraße 11, 37083 Göttingen, Germany
Corresponding author: K. G. Noeske, email@example.com
Accepted: 22 July 2003
We have analyzed deep Near Infrared (NIR) broad band images for a sample of Blue Compact Dwarf Galaxies (BCDs), observed with the ESO NTT and Calar Alto 3.6 m telescopes. The data presented here allows for the detection and quantitative study of the extended stellar low-surface brightness (LSB) host galaxy in all sample BCDs. NIR surface brightness profiles (SBPs) of the LSB host galaxies agree at large galactocentric radii with those from optical studies, showing also an exponential intensity decrease and compatible scale lengths. At small to intermediate radii (within 1–3 exponential scale lengths), however, the NIR data reveals for more than one half of our sample BCDs evidence for a significant flattening of the exponential profile of the LSB component. Such profiles (type V SBPs, Binggeli & Cameron [CITE]) have rarely been detected in the LSB component of BCDs at optical wavelengths, where the relative flux contribution of the starburst, being stronger than in the NIR, can readily hide a possible central intensity depression in the underlying LSB host. The structural properties, frequency and physical origin of type V LSB profiles in BCDs and dwarf galaxies in general have not yet been subject to systematic studies. Nevertheless, the occurrence of such profiles in an appreciable fraction of BCDs would impose important new observational constraints to the radial mass distribution of the stellar LSB component, as well as to the photometric fading of these systems after the termination of star-forming activities. We test the suitability of two empirical fitting functions, a modified exponential distribution (Papaderos et al. [CITE]) and the Sérsic law, for the systematization of the structural properties of BCD host galaxies which show a type V intensity distribution. Either function has been found to satisfactorily fit a type V distribution. However, it is argued that the practical applicability of Sérsic fits to the LSB emission of BCDs is limited by the extreme sensitivity of the achieved solutions to, e.g., small uncertainties in the sky subtraction and SBP derivation. We find that most of the sample BCDs show in their stellar LSB host galaxy optical-NIR colors indicative of an evolved stellar population with subsolar metallicity. Unsharp-masked NIR maps reveal numerous morphological details and indicate in some cases, in combination with optical data, appreciable non-uniform dust absorption on a spatial scale as large as ~1 kpc.
Key words: galaxies: dwarf / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: structure / galaxies: starburst
© ESO, 2003