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The ALHAMBRA survey: 2D analysis of the stellar populations in massive early-type galaxies at z < 0.3

Abstract : We present a technique that permits the analysis of stellar population gradients in a relatively low-cost way compared to integral field unit (IFU) surveys. We developed a technique to analyze unresolved stellar populations of spatially resolved galaxies based on photometric multi-filter surveys. This technique allows the analysis of vastly larger samples and out to larger galactic radii. We derived spatially resolved stellar population properties and radial gradients by applying a centroidal Voronoi tessellation and performing a multicolor photometry spectral energy distribution fitting. This technique has been successfully applied to a sample of 29 massive (M⋆ > 1010.5M⊙) early-type galaxies at z < 0.3 from the ALHAMBRA survey. We produced detailed 2D maps of stellar population properties (age, metallicity, and extinction), which allow us to identify galactic features. Radial structures were studied, and luminosity-weighted and mass-weighted gradients were derived out to 2–3.5 Reff. We find that the spatially resolved stellar population mass, age, and metallicity are well represented by their integrated values. We find the gradients of early-type galaxies to be on average flat in age (∇log AgeL = 0.02 ± 0.06 dex/Reff) and negative in metallicity (∇[Fe/H]L = −0.09 ± 0.06 dex/Reff). Overall,the extinction gradients are flat (∇Av = −0.03 ± 0.09 mag/Reff ) with a wide spread. These results are in agreement with previous studies that used standard long-slit spectroscopy, and with the most recent IFU studies. According to recent simulations, these results are consistent with a scenario where early-type galaxies were formed through major mergers and where their final gradients are driven by the older ages and higher metallicity of the accreted systems. We demonstrate the scientific potential of multi-filter photometry to explore the spatially resolved stellar populations of local galaxies and confirm previous spectroscopic trends from a complementary technique.
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I. San Roman, A. J. Cenarro, L. A. Díaz-García, C. Lopez-Sanjuan, J. Varela, et al.. The ALHAMBRA survey: 2D analysis of the stellar populations in massive early-type galaxies at z < 0.3. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2018, 609, pp.A20. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201630313⟩. ⟨hal-02301190⟩

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