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Published by: European Southern Observatory on May 07, 2009
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The Messenger
No. 126 \u2013 December 2006
The Messenger 126 \u2013 December \ue001006
Reports \ue002rom Observers
Mapping the Properties o\ue000 SDSS Galaxies
with the VIMOS IFU

Joris Gerssen1
Lise Christensen\ue001
David Wilman3
Richard Bower4

1 Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam,
\ue001ES O
3 Max-Planck-Institut \ue002\u00fcr Extraterres-
trische Physik, Garching, Germany
4 Durham University, United Kingdom

We present initial results \ue000rom our
VIMOS IFU study o\ue000 galaxies selected
\ue000rom the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
Large fbre-based surveys like SDSS
have made a major contribution to
our understanding o\ue000 processes that
shape galaxies. The SDSS results,
however, are derived \ue000rom integrated
properties over the area o\ue000 the fbre.
As the angular extent o\ue000 galaxies is usu-
ally considerably larger than the fbre
diameter, the SDSS results are biased
toward the nuclear properties o\ue000 galax-
ies. By contrast, data obtained with
an Integral Field Unit (IFU) are \ue000ree o\ue000
aperture bias.

In the increasingly well-de\ue000ned cosmo-
logical \ue002ramework, the broad outline
o\ue002 galaxy \ue002ormation is thought to be well
understood. Briefy, galaxies \ue002orm in the
gravitational wells o\ue002 dark matter halos
\ue002rom gas that got trapped there a\ue002ter los-
ing kinetic energy through cooling or
dissipative shocks. However, galaxy-\ue002or-
mation models generally overpredict
the \ue002raction o\ue002 gas that is locked up by a
\ue002actor o\ue002 about \ue000ve compared to observa-
tions. To overcome this problem a \ue002eed-
back mechanism is needed to remove
gas \ue002rom galaxies. The detailed physical
processes that govern this are not well
known and are at present hard to con-
strain observationally (Wilman et al. \ue001005,
Bower et al. \ue001006).

The vast database accumulated by the
SDSS survey (York et al. \ue001000) is ideally

suited to constrain many o\ue002 the \ue002unda-
mental physical processes that drive gal-
axy evolution. For example, Tremonti
et al. (\ue001004) \ue000nd evidence \ue002or stellar-wind
\ue002eedback in the SDSS data \ue002rom the ob-
served mass \u2013 metallicity relations. Un\ue002or-

tunately, mass cannot be measured di-
rectly \ue002rom the SDSS data and the
derived metallicities could be a\ue002\ue002ected by
aperture bias.

Another essential ingredient o\ue002 galaxy
evolution, intimately connected to \ue002eed-
back, is the star-\ue002ormation history.
Quanti\ue002ying the star-\ue002ormation rate \ue002rom
the past to the present is there\ue002ore an
active area o\ue002 research. The largest study
to date (Brinchmann et al. \ue001004) uses
~ 105 galaxies in the SDSS database.
They conclude that the present-day star-
\ue002ormation rate is now at about a third o\ue002
the average value over the li\ue002etime o\ue002
the Universe. As the SDSS apertures typ-
ically sample less than hal\ue002 o\ue002 a galaxy\u2019s
size, they need to correct their results \ue002or
this missing in\ue002ormation using resolved
images and procedures based on nuclear
correlations between SFR and colour.

Aperture bias

Large surveys such as the SDSS provide
the statistically most complete samples
o\ue002 \ue002undamental galaxy properties. How-
ever, the SDSS properties represent inte-
grated quantities derived over the cen-
tral three arcsec only. Consequently, the
results su\ue002\ue002er \ue002rom highly signi\ue000cant aper-
ture e\ue002\ue002ects (Brinchmann et al. \ue001004,
Wilman et al. \ue001005, Kewley et al. \ue001005)
that bias the results toward the bulge and
nuclear emission properties. Galaxies,
however, can exhibit strong colour gra-
dients. Correcting emission line strengths
\ue002or aperture e\ue002\ue002ects when gradients are
present is uncertain at best, and com-
pounded by unknown contributions \ue002rom
variations in metallicity and age. With IFU
observations the bright emission lines
are spatially resolved and can be traced
over the whole galaxy. These data
are there\ue002ore \ue002ree o\ue002 aperture e\ue002\ue002ects.

This project

To quanti\ue002y internal variations in the emis-
sion line properties o\ue002 SDSS galaxies
we have begun a project to map a num-
ber o\ue002 them with the VIMOS IFU. In order
to build up a sample o\ue002 galaxies in a
modest amount o\ue002 observing time we se-
lected galaxies \ue002rom the SDSS database
with moderately strong Ha emission (min-

imum equivalent widths o\ue002 \ue001 nm). This
could potentially bias us toward selecting
objects with strong nuclear emission
such as AGN. However, it ensures that
each galaxy requires only 60 minutes
o\ue002 observing time to build a detailed map
o\ue002 spatially resolved star \ue002ormation and
metal abundance. We use the MR mode
o\ue002 VIMOS as its wavelength coverage

(~ 450 to 900 nm) and spectral resolution
closely match the SDSS \ue000bre observa-
The sample was constructed to uni\ue002ormly
cover the redshi\ue002t range up to 0.1. Above

these redshi\ue002ts aperture e\ue002\ue002ects become
less important. We visually inspected
the SDSS images o\ue002 candidates to assess
their morphology and inclination and se-
lected a total o\ue002 \ue0014 galaxies to guarantee
that a\ue002ter binning the data in a variety
o\ue002 ways (in redshi\ue002t, size, or luminosity) we
still obtain statistically signi\ue000cant results
\ue002or each bin.

The selected galaxies are all at intermedi-
ate inclination. While not the main goal
o\ue002 our project, this allows us to constrain
the velocity \ue000elds and, hence, the en-
closed mass pro\ue000les o\ue002 the galaxies in our
sample. The mass distribution as a \ue002unc-
tion o\ue002 radius is a key prediction o\ue002 hierar-
chical galaxy \ue002ormation scenarios. Ob-
servational constraints on velocity \ue000elds
are scarce even in the local Universe.
The SDSS database itsel\ue002 contains no kin-
ematical in\ue002ormation other than the re-
cessional velocity o\ue002 a system. The total
masses o\ue002 SDSS galaxies are normal-
ly estimated indirectly, usually \ue002rom their
total magnitude.

In Period 76 we obtained data \ue002or 1\ue001 o\ue002
the galaxies in our sample. A \ue002urther
1\ue001 systems are scheduled \ue002or observation
in Period 78. The VIMOS IFU provides

data sets o\ue002 the \ue002orm (RA, DEC,l). Four

examples o\ue002 our data are shown in Fig-
ure 1. For each galaxy we show an image
slice (i.e. a cut inl through a data set) in
the light o\ue002 Ha and a composite broad-
band image.

Preliminary results
The emission line properties are derived
by \ue000tting Gaussian pro\ue000les simultaneously
to the Balmer lines (Ha, Hb) and strong
The Messenger 126 \u2013 December \ue001006

\ue002orbidden transition lines ([Oiii], [Nii]) a\ue002ter
removing the continuum using a sliding
median. In our \ue002ull analysis we will \ue002ollow
Tremonti et al. (\ue001004) and \ue000t the continu-
um with an optimal stellar template mod-
el. Subtracting this model will correctly
take any underlying absorption into ac-
count that may otherwise signi\ue000cantly a\ue002-
\ue002ect our results (in this article we assume
an average correction \ue002or absorption o\ue002
EW = 0.\ue001 nm). This model also provides a
handle on the stellar kinematics.

To quanti\ue002y aperture e\ue002\ue002ects we examine

the cumulative line fux and line strength
o\ue002 the Ha lines in the \ue002our galaxies used
in this article (Figure \ue001) as a \ue002unction o\ue002
aperture size. Not surprisingly, the cumu-
lative fux grows systematically beyond
the radius o\ue002 the SDSS aperture. When
extrapolating to larger radii it is \ue002requently
assumed that the line fux and continu-
um properties \ue002ollow the same trend. But
as the bottom panel illustrates the line-
fux to continuum-fux ratio (that is, equi-
valent width or line strength) is not always
constant. Extrapolating quantities de-
rived \ue002rom the SDSS database to larger
radii is there\ue002ore \ue002raught with di\ue002\ue000culties.

Systems harbouring an AGN such as

sdss\ue001\ue001 display the strongest variation in
cumulative line strength. A use\ue002ul way
to classi\ue002y the activity level o\ue002 a galaxy is
by determining its location in a diagnos-
tic BPT diagram (Baldwin, Phillips and
Terlevich 1981). In Figure 3 we reproduce
the BPT diagram derived by Brinchmann
et al. (\ue001004) using ~ 105 SDSS galaxies.
This diagram o\ue002 emission line ratios has a

Aperture (arcsec)
Figure 2: Cumulative quantities de-

rived using a so\ue002tware aperture with in-
creasing radius and centred on the
nucleus o\ue002 each galaxy. The cumula-
tive Ha line fux (arbitrarily normalised)
shown in the top panel grows mono-
tonically as the galaxies in our sample
are larger than the radius o\ue002 the SDSS
\ue000bre (dashed line). The continuum
fux does not necessarily \ue002ollow the
same trend. This is illustrated in the
bottom panels where the cumulative
line strength o\ue002 the Ha emission line
is shown. This can lead to strong
aperture bias when extrapolating the
SDSS results to larger radii.

Figure 1: Examples \ue002rom our sample o\ue002

SDSS galaxies observed with the
VIMOS IFU. Shown \ue002rom le\ue002t to right in
ascending redshi\ue002t order are sdss6,
sdss13, sdss\ue001\ue001 and sdss9 (the names
simply refect the RA ordering in our
selected sample) at redshi\ue002ts o\ue002 0.0\ue0018,

0.034, 0.074 and 0.106 respectively.

In the top panels composite colour im-
ages derived \ue002rom the VIMOS IFU
data extracted over the SDSSr andi

bands are shown. The corresponding

Ha images are shown in the bottom
panels. Panels measure \ue0017 by \ue0017 arc-
sec and each pixel is 0.67 arcsec.
For comparison the SDSS \ue000bre size is
indicated by the red circle in the top
le\ue002t panel.

\u2013 0.5
Log [NII]658.4 / H\ue000
\u2013 0.5
Figure 3: To quanti\ue002y the e\ue002\ue002ect o\ue002

varying aperture size on the derived
metallicities we plot the VIMOS IFU
results as \u2018tracks\u2019 in a BPT diagram.
The starting point (i.e. smallest radius)
o\ue002 each track is highlighted by the
open squares. The crosses mark
where the radius is equal to the SDSS
\ue000bre radius. The underlying gray-
scale image shows the \u2018raw\u2019 emission
line measurements by Brinchmann et
al. (\ue001004, see alsoh t t p: // w w w.m p a -

garching.mpg.de/SDSS/#dataprod) o\ue002
some 500 000 SDSS galaxies. The
lines divide the sample into star \ue002orm-
ing (le\ue002t), hybrid (centre) and AGN

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