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Resolving the age bimodality of galaxy stellar populations on kpc scales

AuthorsZibetti, S.; Ascasibar, Y.; García-Benito, Rubén ; Kehrig, C. ; Márquez, Isabel ; Wisotzki, L.
KeywordsGalaxies: general
Galaxies: statistics
Galaxies: stellar content
Galaxies: structure
Issue Date28-Jan-2017
PublisherOxford University Press
CitationMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 468(2): 1902-1916 (2017)
AbstractGalaxies in the local Universe are known to follow bimodal distributions in the global stellar population properties. We analyse the distribution of the local average stellar population ages of 654 053 sub-galactic regions resolved on similar to 1 kpc scales in a volume-corrected sample of 394 galaxies, drawn from the Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area (CALIFA) DR3 integral-field- spectroscopy survey and complemented by Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) imaging. We find a bimodal local-age distribution, with an old and a young peak primarily due to regions in early-type galaxies and star-forming regions of spirals, respectively. Within spiral galaxies, the older ages of bulges and interarm regions relative to spiral arms support an internal age bimodality. Although regions of higher stellar mass surface density, mu(*), are typically older, mu(*) alone does not determine the stellar population age and a bimodal distribution is found at any fixed mu(*). We identify an 'old ridge' of regions of age similar to 9 Gyr, independent of mu(*), and a 'young sequence' of regions with age increasing with mu(*) from 1-1.5 to 4-5 Gyr. We interpret the former as regions containing only old stars, and the latter as regions where the relative contamination of old stellar populations by young stars decreases as mu(*) increases. The reason why this bimodal age distribution is not inconsistent with the unimodal shape of the cosmic-averaged star formation history is that (i) the dominating contribution by young stars biases the age low with respect to the average epoch of star formation, and (ii) the use of a single average age per region is unable to represent the full time extent of the star formation history of ` young sequence' regions.
DescriptionZibetti, S. et. al.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stx251
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