Volume 489, Number 3, October III 2008
|Page(s)||1003 - 1014|
|Published online||09 July 2008|
Bulges of disk galaxies at intermediate redshifts
II. Nuclear, disk, and global colors in the Groth Strip
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain e-mail: [ldp;balcells]@iac.es
Accepted: 19 June 2008
Context. The chronology of bulge and disk formation is a major unsolved issue in galaxy formation, which impacts on our global understanding of the Hubble sequence.
Aims. We analyse colours of the nuclear regions of intermediate redshift disk galaxies, with the aim of obtaining empirical information of relative ages of bulges and disks at .
Methods. We work with an apparent-diameter limited parent sample of 248 galaxies from the HST Groth Strip Survey. We apply a conservative criterion to identify bulges and potential precursors of present-day bulges based on nuclear surface brightness excess above the exponential profile of the outer parts and select a sample of 56 galaxies with measurable bulges. We measure bulge colours on wedge profiles opening on the semi-minor axis least affected by dust in the disk, and compare them to disk, and global galaxy colours.
Results. For 60% of galaxies with bulges, the rest-frame nuclear colour distribution shows a red sequence that is well fit by passive evolution models of various ages, while the remainder 40% scatters towards bluer colours. In contrast, galaxies without central brightness excess show typical colours of star forming population and lack a red sequence. We also see that, as in the local Universe, most of the minor axis colour profiles are negative (bluer outward), and fairly gentle, indicating that nuclear colours are not distinctly different from disk colours. This is corroborated when comparing nuclear, global and disk colours: these show strong correlations, for any value of the central brightness prominence of the bulge. No major differences are found between the low and high inclination samples, both for the bulge and non-bulge samples.
Conclusions. Comparison with synthetic models of red sequence bulge colours suggests that such red bulges have stopped forming stars at an epoch earlier than ~1 Gyr before the observation. The correlation between nuclear and disk colours and the small colour gradients hints at an intertwined star formation history for bulges and disks: probably, most of our red bulges formed in a process in which truncation of star formation in the bulge did not destroy the disk.
Key words: galaxies: bulges / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: formation / galaxies: fundamental parameters / galaxies: high-redshift / galaxies: photometry
© ESO, 2008
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