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Durham University

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Publication details for Prof Ray Sharples

Benson, A. J., Frenk, C. S. & Sharples, R. M. (2002). The luminosity functions and stellar masses of galactic disks and spheroids. Astrophysical Journal 574(1): 104-113.

Author(s) from Durham


We present a method to obtain quantitative measures of galaxy morphology and apply it to a spectroscopic sample of field galaxies in order to determine the luminosity and stellar mass functions of galactic disks and spheroids. For our sample of approximately 600 galaxies, we estimate, for each galaxy, the bulge-to-disk luminosity ratio in the I band using a two-dimensional image fitting procedure. Monte Carlo simulations indicate that reliable determinations are only possible for galaxies approximately 2 mag brighter than the photometric completeness limit, leaving a sample of 90 galaxies with well-determined bulge-to-total light ratios. Using our measurements of individual disk and bulge luminosities for these 90 galaxies, we construct the luminosity functions of disks and spheroids and, using a stellar population synthesis model, we estimate the stellar mass functions of each of these components. The disk and spheroid luminosity functions are remarkably similar, although our rather small sample size precludes a detailed analysis. We do, however, find evidence in the bivariate luminosity function that spheroid-dominated galaxies occur only among the brightest spheroids, while disk-dominated galaxies span a much wider range of disk luminosities. Remarkably, the total stellar mass residing in disks and spheroids is approximately the same. For our sample (which includes galaxies brighter than M*+2, where M* is the magnitude corresponding to the characteristic luminosity), we find the ratio of stellar masses in disks and spheroids to be 1.3+/-0.2. This agrees with the earlier estimates of Schechter & Dressler but differs significantly from that of Fukugita, Hogan, & Peebles. Ongoing large photometric and redshift surveys will lead to a large increase in the number of galaxies to which our techniques can be applied and thus to an improvement in the current estimates.


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