From voids to filaments: environmental transformations of galaxies in the SDSS [GA]

We investigate the impact of filament and void environments on galaxies, looking for residual effects beyond the known relations with environment density. We quantified the host environment of galaxies as the distance to the spine of the nearest filament, and compared various galaxy properties within 12 bins of this distance. We considered galaxies up to 10 $h^{-1}$Mpc from filaments, i.e. deep inside voids. The filaments were defined by a point process (the Bisous model) from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey data release 10. In order to remove the dependence of galaxy properties on the environment density and redshift, we applied weighting to normalise the corresponding distributions of galaxy populations in each bin. After the normalisation with respect to environment density and redshift, several residual dependencies of galaxy properties still remain. Most notable is the trend of morphology transformations, resulting in a higher elliptical-to-spiral ratio while moving from voids towards filament spines, bringing along a corresponding increase in the $g-i$ colour index and a decrease in star formation rate. After separating elliptical and spiral subsamples, some of the colour index and star formation rate evolution still remains. The mentioned trends are characteristic only for galaxies brighter than about $M_{r} = -20$ mag. Unlike some other recent studies, we do not witness an increase in the galaxy stellar mass while approaching filaments. The detected transformations can be explained by an increase in the galaxy-galaxy merger rate and/or the cut-off of extragalactic gas supplies (starvation) near and inside filaments. Unlike voids, large-scale galaxy filaments are not a mere density enhancement, but have their own specific impact on the constituent galaxies, reducing the star formation rate and raising the chances of elliptical morphology also at a fixed environment density level.

Read this paper on arXiv…

T. Kuutma, A. Tamm and E. Tempel
Tue, 14 Mar 17

Comments: 4 pages, 3 figures, Astronomy & Astrophysics letters accepted