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Low Surface Brightness Galaxies and the Galaxy Stellar Mass Function

Williams, RP (2017) Low Surface Brightness Galaxies and the Galaxy Stellar Mass Function. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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The galaxy stellar mass function (GSMF) has been well measured by the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey down to a mass of $\mstar = 10^{8}\,\msun$. Below this mass the values produced so far can only be taken as lower limits on the distribution. One source of this incompleteness is failing to account for undetected low-surface-brightness galaxies (LSBGs) within the fields observed. These galaxies have been known about for some time, however, taking a true census of their population is difficult because of the biases associated with their detection in large surveys. The focus of this thesis is to improve the census of these objects and to try and apply those results to the low-mass end of the GSMF. First the SDSS data used to create the original GAMA catalogues is re-examined for low-surface brightness galaxies (LSBGs). To accomplish this SDSS DR7 imaging was used and a specialised detection algorithm created. This was based on masking sources detected with SDSS \textsc{photo}, combining the {\it gri} images with a weighting that maximises the signal-to-noise (SNR), and smoothing the images. These were then run through a detection algorithm which finds all pixels above a set threshold and groups them based on their proximity to one another. The list of detections is cleaned of contaminants such as diffraction spikes and the faint wings of masked objects. This produces a final list of 343 newly discovered LSBGs. Measuring their $g-i$ and $J-K$ colours shows that most are likely to be at redshifts less than 0.15. The photometry is carried out using a flexible auto aperture for each detection giving surface brightness measurements of $\mu_{r} > 23.7$\,mag arcsec$^{-2}$ and $r$-band magnitudes of $r_{AUTO} \gtrsim 20$\, mag. Through this method we show there are at least 343 new LSBGs within the GAMA fields, however none of these galaxies are bright enough to be within the GAMA main survey limit. It was noticed during the previous work that the detected LSBGs were all visible in VIKING $Z$-band data, and so it was decided to run a more traditional detection algorithm over these data to increase the number of LSBGs detected. This could then be used to create a new GSMF based on the deeper $Z$-band imaging. By using this imaging it will be possible to detect many more faint galaxies than previously and also increase the depth to which surface brightness can be effectively probed. The three GAMA equatorial regions have had mosaics created from the $Z$-band imaging which are searched using \textsc{Source Extractor} (\textsc{SExtractor}) and catalogues of detections are made. These are then compared to the original GAMA catalogues to remove duplicate detections and identify any possible new ones. Criteria are then applied to the source lists to remove any stars or objects which are either not galaxies or artefacts. This then leaves only likely galaxies in the catalogue to be used. The next stage is to create the GSMF based on the data collected, through applying corrections for the volume searched, and the spectroscopic completeness of the objects after they have been binned in $g-i$, $J-K$, and apparent magnitude. The GSMF created is compared to previous versions, namely that from \cite{Baldry+2012}, and a rise in the number density at masses of $\mstar \le 10^{8}\,\msun$ is shown. These can still only be thought of as lower limits however as improvement to the imaging can still be made in future surveys. With a full catalogue obtained using the VIKING Z-band it was decided to revisit the detection algorithm developed in Chapter 2. A pilot study was undertaken to both test the validity of the method, and the suitability of the VIKING images for further study. Whilst applying the detection algorithm to the data improved the ability to detect low surface brightness features within the images, no new galaxies were discovered over the pilot study area of $0.75$ deg$^{2}$. This method applied to the Z-band data, even over the full area, is unlikely to lead to large numbers of new LSBGs. This work has shown that there are still LSBGs in the field to be discovered. The result of finding new LSBGs has been to raise the measurement of the GSMF at low masses, further constraining the number of low mass galaxies in the Universe.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Galaxies; Low Surface Brightness Galaxies; GSMF; Low Mass
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2017 09:21
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2022 08:53
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00006652
Supervisors: Baldry, IK and James, PA
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/6652
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