Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA): Probing the merger histories of massive galaxies via stellar populations [GA]

The merging history of galaxies can be traced with studies of dynamically close pairs. These consist of a massive primary galaxy and a less massive secondary (or satellite) galaxy. The study of the stellar populations of secondary (lower mass) galaxies in close pairs provides a way to understand galaxy growth by mergers. Here we focus on systems involving at least one massive galaxy – with stellar mass above $10^{11}M_\odot$ in the highly complete GAMA survey. Our working sample comprises 2,692 satellite galaxy spectra (0.1<z<0.3). These spectra are combined into high S/N stacks, and binned according to both an “internal” parameter, the stellar mass of the satellite galaxy (i.e. the secondary), and an “external” parameter, selecting either the mass of the primary in the pair, or the mass of the corresponding dark matter halo. We find significant variations in the age of the populations with respect to environment. At fixed mass, satellites around the most massive galaxies are older and possibly more metal rich, with age differences ~1-2Gyr within the subset of lower mass satellites ($\sim 10^{10}M_\odot$). These variations are similar when stacking with respect to the halo mass of the group where the pair is embedded. The population trends in the lower-mass satellites are consistent with the old stellar ages found in the outer regions of massive galaxies.

Read this paper on arXiv…

I. Ferreras, A. Hopkins, M. Gunawardhana, et. al.
Fri, 3 Mar 17

Comments: 14 pages, 11 figures, 2 tables, MNRAS, in press