Galaxy evolution by color-log(n) type since redshift unity in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field

E. Cameron, S. P. Driver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Aims. We explore the use of the color-log(n) (where n is the global Sersic index) plane as a tool for subdividing the galaxy population in a physically-motivated manner out to redshift unity. We thereby aim to quantify surface brightness evolution by color-log(n) type, accounting separately for the specific selection and measurement biases against each.

Methods. We construct (u-r) color-log(n) diagrams for distant galaxies in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (UDF) within a series of volume-limited samples to z = 1.5. The color-log(n) distributions of these high redshift galaxies are compared against that measured for nearby galaxies in the Millennium Galaxy Catalogue (MGC), as well as to the results of visual morphological classification. Based on this analysis we divide our sample into three color-structure classes. Namely, "red, compact", "blue, diffuse" and "blue, compact". Luminosity-size diagrams are constructed for members of the two largest classes ("red, compact" and "blue, diffuse"), both in the UDF and the MGC. Artificial galaxy simulations (for systems with exponential and de Vaucouleurs profile shapes alternately) are used to identify "bias-free" regions of the luminosity-size plane in which galaxies are detected with high completeness, and their fluxes and sizes recovered with minimal surface brightness-dependent biases. Galaxy evolution is quantified via comparison of the low and high redshift luminosity-size relations within these "bias- free" regions.

Results. We confirm the correlation between color-log(n) plane position and visual morphological type observed locally and in other high redshift studies in the color and/or structure domain. The combined effects of observational uncertainties, the morphological K-correction and cosmic variance preclude a robust statistical comparison of the shape of the MGC and UDF color-log(n) distributions. However, in the interval 0.75 < z < 1.0 where the UDF i-band samples close to rest-frame B-band light (i.e., the morphological K-correction between our samples is negligible) we are able to present tentative evidence of bimodality, albiet for a very small sample size (17 galaxies). Our unique approach to quantifying selection and measurement biases in the luminosity-size plane highlights the need to consider errors in the recovery of both magnitudes and sizes, and their dependence on profile shape. Motivated by these results we divide our sample into the three color-structure classes mentioned above and quantify luminosity-size evolution by galaxy type. Specifically, we detect decreases in B-band, surface brightness of 1.57 +/- 0.22 mag arcsec(-2) and 1.65 +/- 0.22 mag arcsec(-2) for our "blue, diffuse" and "red, compact" classes respectively between redshift unity and the present day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-500
Number of pages12
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


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