Structural analysis of star-forming blue early-type galaxies
Merger-driven star formation in elliptical galaxies
Indian Institute of Astrophysics, 2nd Block, Koramangala, 560034 Bangalore, India
Received: 7 September 2016
Accepted: 3 December 2016
Context. Star-forming blue early-type galaxies at low redshift can give insight to the stellar mass growth of L⋆ elliptical galaxies in the local Universe.
Aims. We wish to understand the reason for star formation in these otherwise passively evolving red and dead stellar systems. The fuel for star formation can be acquired through recent accretion events such as mergers or flyby. The signatures of such events should be evident from a structural analysis of the galaxy image.
Methods. We carried out structural analysis on SDSS r-band imaging data of 55 star-forming blue elliptical galaxies, derived the structural parameters, analysed the residuals from best-fit to surface brightness distribution, and constructed the galaxy scaling relations.
Results. We found that star-forming blue early-type galaxies are bulge-dominated systems with axial ratio >0.5 and surface brightness profiles fitted by Sérsic profiles with index (n) mostly >2. Twenty-three galaxies are found to have n< 2; these could be hosting a disc component. The residual images of the 32 galaxy surface brightness profile fits show structural features indicative of recent interactions. The star-forming blue elliptical galaxies follow the Kormendy relation and show the characteristics of normal elliptical galaxies as far as structural analysis is concerned. There is a general trend for high-luminosity galaxies to display interaction signatures and high star formation rates.
Conclusions. The star-forming population of blue early-type galaxies at low redshifts could be normal ellipticals that might have undergone a recent gas-rich minor merger event. The star formation in these galaxies will shut down once the recently acquired fuel is consumed, following which the galaxy will evolve to a normal early-type galaxy.
Key words: galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: star formation / galaxies: structure
© ESO, 2017