Publications by Chris Lintott


Planet Hunters. VI: An Independent Characterization of KOI-351 and Several Long Period Planet Candidates from the Kepler Archival Data

ArXiv (2013)

JR Schmitt, J Wang, DA Fischer, KJ Jek, JC Moriarty, TS Boyajian, ME Schwamb, C Lintott, S Lynn, AM Smith, M Parrish, K Schawinski, R Simpson, D LaCourse, MR Omohundro, T Winarski, SJ Goodman, T Jebson, HM Schwengeler, DA Paterson, J Sejpka, I Terentev, T Jacobs, N Alsaadi, RC Bailey, T Ginman, P Granado, KV Guttormsen, F Mallia, AL Papillon, F Rossi, M Socolovsky

We report the discovery of 14 new transiting planet candidates in the Kepler field from the Planet Hunters citizen science program. None of these candidates overlapped with Kepler Objects of Interest (KOIs) at the time of submission. We report the discovery of one more addition to the six planet candidate system around KOI-351, making it the only seven planet candidate system from Kepler. Additionally, KOI-351 bears some resemblance to our own solar system, with the inner five planets ranging from Earth to mini-Neptune radii and the outer planets being gas giants; however, this system is very compact, with all seven planet candidates orbiting $\lesssim 1$ AU from their host star. A Hill stability test and an orbital integration of the system shows that the system is stable. Furthermore, we significantly add to the population of long period transiting planets; periods range from 124-904 days, eight of them more than one Earth year long. Seven of these 14 candidates reside in their host star's habitable zone.


Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skills: a novel method to evaluate surgical performance

Journal of Surgical Research (2013)

C Chen, D Holst, L White, T Kowalewski, R Aggarwal, C Lintott, B Comstock, K Kuksenok, C Aragon, T Lendvay

Background: Validated methods of objective assessments of surgical skills are resource intensive. We sought to test a web-based grading tool using crowdsourcing called Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skill. Materials and methods: Institutional Review Board approval was granted to test the accuracy of Amazon.com's Mechanical Turk and Facebook crowdworkers compared with experienced surgical faculty grading a recorded dry-laboratory robotic surgical suturing performance using three performance domains from a validated assessment tool. Assessor free-text comments describing their rating rationale were used to explore a relationship between the language used by the crowd and grading accuracy. Results: Of a total possible global performance score of 3-15, 10 experienced surgeons graded the suturing video at a mean score of 12.11 (95% confidence interval [CI], 11.11-13.11). Mechanical Turk and Facebook graders rated the video at mean scores of 12.21 (95% CI, 11.98-12.43) and 12.06 (95% CI, 11.57-12.55), respectively. It took 24 h to obtain responses from 501 Mechanical Turk subjects, whereas it took 24 d for 10 faculty surgeons to complete the 3-min survey. Facebook subjects (110) responded within 25 d. Language analysis indicated that crowdworkers who used negation words (i.e., "but," "although," and so forth) scored the performance more equivalently to experienced surgeons than crowdworkers who did not (P < 0.00001). Conclusions: For a robotic suturing performance, we have shown that surgery-naive crowdworkers can rapidly assess skill equivalent to experienced faculty surgeons using Crowd-Sourced Assessment of Technical Skill. It remains to be seen whether crowds can discriminate different levels of skill and can accurately assess human surgery performances. © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


The Ultraviolet Attenuation Law in Backlit Spiral Galaxies

ArXiv (2014)

WC Keel, AM Manning, BW Holwerda, CJ Lintott, K Schawinski

(Abridged) The effective extinction law (attenuation behavior) in galaxies in the emitted ultraviolet is well known only for actively star-forming objects and combines effects of the grain properties, fine structure in the dust distribution, and relative distributions of stars and dust. We use GALEX, XMM Optical Monitor, and HST data to explore the UV attenuation in the outer parts of spiral disks which are backlit by other UV-bright galaxies, starting with candidates provided by Galaxy Zoo participants. Our analysis incorporates galaxy symmetry, using non-overlapping regions of each galaxy to derive error estimates on the attenuation measurements. The entire sample has an attenuation law close to the Calzetti et al. (1994) form; the UV slope for the overall sample is substantially shallower than found by Wild et al. (2011), a reasonable match to the more distant galaxies in our sample but not to the weighted combination including NGC 2207. The nearby, bright spiral NGC 2207 alone gives accuracy almost equal to the rest of our sample, and its outer arms have a very low level of foreground starlight. This "grey" law can be produced from the distribution of dust alone, without a necessary contribution from differential escape of stars from dense clouds. The extrapolation needed to compare attenution between backlit galaxies at moderate redshifts, and local systems from SDSS data, is mild enough to allow use of galaxy overlaps to trace the cosmic history of dust. For NGC 2207, the covering factor of clouds with small optical attenuation becomes a dominant factor farther into the ultraviolet, which opens the possibility that widespread diffuse dust dominates over dust in star-forming regions deep into the ultraviolet. Comparison with published radiative-transfer models indicates that the role of dust clumping dominates over differences in grain populations, at this spatial resolution.


Galaxy Zoo: An independent look at the evolution of the bar fraction over the last eight billion years from HST-COSMOS

ArXiv (2014)

T Melvin, K Masters, C Lintott, RC Nichol, B Simmons, SP Bamford, KRV Casteels, E Cheung, EM Edmondson, L Fortson, K Schawinski, RA Skibba, AM Smith, KW Willett

We measure the redshift evolution of the bar fraction in a sample of 2380 visually selected disc galaxies found in Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images. The visual classifications used to identify both the disc sample and to indicate the presence of stellar bars were provided by citizen scientists via the Galaxy Zoo: Hubble (GZH) project. We find that the overall bar fraction decreases by a factor of two, from 22+/-5% at z=0.4 (tlb = 4.2 Gyr) to 11+/-2% at z=1.0 (tlb = 7.8 Gyr), consistent with previous analysis. We show that this decrease, of the strong bar fraction in a volume limited sample of massive disc galaxies [stellar mass limit of log(Mstar/Msun) > 10.0], cannot be due to redshift dependent biases hiding either bars or disc galaxies at higher redshifts. Splitting our sample into three bins of mass we find that the decrease in bar fraction is most prominent in the highest mass bin, while the lower mass discs in our sample show a more modest evolution. We also include a sample of 98 red disc galaxies. These galaxies have a high bar fraction (45+/-5%), and are missing from other COSMOS samples which used SED fitting or colours to identify high redshift discs. Our results are consistent with a picture in which the evolution of massive disc galaxies begins to be affected by slow (secular) internal process at z~1. We discuss possible connections of the decrease in bar fraction to the redshift, including the growth of stable disc galaxies, mass evolution of the gas content in disc galaxies, as well as the mass dependent effects of tidal interactions.


Planet Hunters. V. A Confirmed Jupiter-Size Planet in the Habitable Zone and 42 Planet Candidates from the Kepler Archive Data

ArXiv (2013)

J Wang, DA Fischer, T Barclay, TS Boyajian, JR Crepp, ME Schwamb, C Lintott, KJ Jek, AM Smith, M Parrish, K Schawinski, J Schmitt, MJ Giguere, JM Brewer, S Lynn, R Simpson, AJ Hoekstra, TL Jacobs, D LaCourse, HM Schwengeler, M Chopin

We report the latest Planet Hunter results, including PH2 b, a Jupiter-size (R_PL = 10.12 \pm 0.56 R_E) planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a solar-type star. PH2 b was elevated from candidate status when a series of false positive tests yielded a 99.9% confidence level that transit events detected around the star KIC 12735740 had a planetary origin. Planet Hunter volunteers have also discovered 42 new planet candidates in the Kepler public archive data, of which 33 have at least three transits recorded. Most of these transit candidates have orbital periods longer than 100 days and 20 are potentially located in the habitable zones of their host stars. Nine candidates were detected with only two transit events and the prospective periods are longer than 400 days. The photometric models suggest that these objects have radii that range between Neptune to Jupiter. These detections nearly double the number of gas giant planet candidates orbiting at habitable zone distances. We conducted spectroscopic observations for nine of the brighter targets to improve the stellar parameters and we obtained adaptive optics imaging for four of the stars to search for blended background or foreground stars that could confuse our photometric modeling. We present an iterative analysis method to derive the stellar and planet properties and uncertainties by combining the available spectroscopic parameters, stellar evolution models, and transiting light curve parameters, weighted by the measurement errors. Planet Hunters is a citizen science project that crowd-sources the assessment of NASA Kepler light curves. The discovery of these 43 planet candidates demonstrates the success of citizen scientists at identifying planet candidates, even in longer period orbits with only two or three transit events.


Morphology in the era of large surveys

ASTRONOMY & GEOPHYSICS 54 (2013) 16-19

C Lintott, K Masters, B Simmons, S Bamford, S Kaviraj


Galaxy Zoo: Motivations of Citizen Scientists

ArXiv (2013)

MJ Raddick, G Bracey, PL Gay, CJ Lintott, C Cardamone, P Murray, K Schawinski, AS Szalay, J Vandenberg

Citizen science, in which volunteers work with professional scientists to conduct research, is expanding due to large online datasets. To plan projects, it is important to understand volunteers' motivations for participating. This paper analyzes results from an online survey of nearly 11,000 volunteers in Galaxy Zoo, an astronomy citizen science project. Results show that volunteers' primary motivation is a desire to contribute to scientific research. We encourage other citizen science projects to study the motivations of their volunteers, to see whether and how these results may be generalized to inform the field of citizen science.


A Herschel-ATLAS study of dusty spheroids: probing the minor-merger process in the local Universe

ArXiv (2013)

S Kaviraj, K Rowlands, M Alpaslan, L Dunne, YS Ting, M Bureau, S Shabala, CJ Lintott, DJB Smith, THATLAS collaboration

We use multi-wavelength (0.12 - 500 micron) photometry from Herschel-ATLAS, WISE, UKIDSS, SDSS and GALEX, to study 23 nearby spheroidal galaxies with prominent dust lanes (DLSGs). DLSGs are considered to be remnants of recent minor mergers, making them ideal laboratories for studying both the interstellar medium (ISM) of spheroids and minor-merger-driven star formation in the nearby Universe. The DLSGs exhibit star formation rates (SFRs) between 0.01 and 10 MSun yr^-1, with a median of 0.26 MSun yr^-1 (a factor of 3.5 greater than the average SG). The median dust mass, dust-to-stellar mass ratio and dust temperature in these galaxies are around 10^7.6 MSun yr^-1, ~0.05% and ~19.5 K respectively. The dust masses are at least a factor of 50 greater than that expected from stellar mass loss and, like the SFRs, show no correlation with galaxy luminosity, suggesting that both the ISM and the star formation have external drivers. Adopting literature gas-to-dust ratios and star formation histories derived from fits to the panchromatic photometry, we estimate that the median current and initial gas-to-stellar mass ratios in these systems are ~4% and ~7% respectively. If, as indicated by recent work, minor mergers that drive star formation in spheroids with (NUV-r)>3.8 (the colour range of our DLSGs) have stellar mass ratios between 1:6 and 1:10, then the satellite gas fractions are likely >50%.


Morphology in the Era of Large Surveys

ArXiv (2013)

C Lintott, K Masters, B Simmons, S Bamford, S Kaviraj

The study of galaxies has changed dramatically over the past few decades with the advent of large-scale astronomical surveys. These large collaborative efforts have made available high-quality imaging and spectroscopy of hundreds of thousands of systems, providing a body of observations which has significantly enhanced our understanding not only of cosmology and large-scale structure in the universe but also of the astrophysics of galaxy formation and evolution. Throughout these changes, one thing that has remained constant is the role of galaxy morphology as a clue to understanding galaxies. But obtaining morphologies for large numbers of galaxies is challenging; this topic, "Morphology in the era of large surveys", was the subject of a recent discussion meeting at the Royal Astronomical Society, and this "Astronomy and Geophysics" article is a report on that meeting.


Galaxy Zoo: Observing Secular Evolution Through Bars

ArXiv (2013)

E Cheung, E Athanassoula, KL Masters, RC Nichol, A Bosma, EF Bell, SM Faber, DC Koo, C Lintott, T Melvin, K Schawinski, RA Skibba, KW Willett

In this paper, we use the Galaxy Zoo 2 dataset to study the behavior of bars in disk galaxies as a function of specific star formation rate (SSFR), and bulge prominence. Our sample consists of 13,295 disk galaxies, with an overall (strong) bar fraction of $23.6\pm 0.4\%$, of which 1,154 barred galaxies also have bar length measurements. These samples are the largest ever used to study the role of bars in galaxy evolution. We find that the likelihood of a galaxy hosting a bar is anti-correlated with SSFR, regardless of stellar mass or bulge prominence. We find that the trends of bar likelihood and bar length with bulge prominence are bimodal with SSFR. We interpret these observations using state-of-the-art simulations of bar evolution which include live halos and the effects of gas and star formation. We suggest our observed trends of bar likelihood with SSFR are driven by the gas fraction of the disks; a factor demonstrated to significantly retard both bar formation and evolution in models. We interpret the bimodal relationship between bulge prominence and bar properties as due to the complicated effects of classical bulges and central mass concentrations on bar evolution, and also to the growth of disky pseudobulges by bar evolution. These results represent empirical evidence for secular evolution driven by bars in disk galaxies. This work suggests that bars are not stagnant structures within disk galaxies, but are a critical evolutionary driver of their host galaxies in the local universe ($z<1$).


Galaxy Zoo 2: detailed morphological classifications for 304,122 galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

ArXiv (2013)

KW Willett, CJ Lintott, SP Bamford, KL Masters, BD Simmons, KRV Casteels, EM Edmondson, LF Fortson, S Kaviraj, WC Keel, T Melvin, RC Nichol, MJ Raddick, K Schawinski, RJ Simpson, RA Skibba, AM Smith, D Thomas

We present the data release for Galaxy Zoo 2 (GZ2), a citizen science project with more than 16 million morphological classifications of 304,122 galaxies drawn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Morphology is a powerful probe for quantifying a galaxy's dynamical history; however, automatic classifications of morphology (either by computer analysis of images or by using other physical parameters as proxies) still have drawbacks when compared to visual inspection. The large number of images available in current surveys makes visual inspection of each galaxy impractical for individual astronomers. GZ2 uses classifications from volunteer citizen scientists to measure morphologies for all galaxies in the DR7 Legacy survey with m_r>17, in addition to deeper images from SDSS Stripe 82. While the original Galaxy Zoo project identified galaxies as early-types, late-types, or mergers, GZ2 measures finer morphological features. These include bars, bulges, and the shapes of edge-on disks, as well as quantifying the relative strengths of galactic bulges and spiral arms. This paper presents the full public data release for the project, including measures of accuracy and bias. The majority (>90%) of GZ2 classifications agree with those made by professional astronomers, especially for morphological T-types, strong bars, and arm curvature. Both the raw and reduced data products can be obtained in electronic format at http://data.galaxyzoo.org .


Measuring the conceptual understandings of citizen scientists participating in zooniverse projects: A first approach

Astronomy Education Review 12 (2013)

EE Prather, S Cormier, CS Wallace, C Lintott, M Jordan Raddick, A Smith

The Zooniverse projects turn everyday people into "citizen scientists" who work online with real data to assist scientists in conducting research on a variety of topics related to galaxies, exoplanets, lunar craters, and solar flares, among others. This paper describes our initial study to assess the conceptual knowledge and reasoning abilities of citizen scientists participating in two Zooniverse projects: Galaxy Zoo and Moon Zoo. In order to measure their knowledge and abilities, we developed two new assessment instruments, the Zooniverse Astronomical Concept Survey (ZACS) and the Lunar Cratering Concept Inventory (LCCI). We found that citizen scientists with the highest level of participation in the Galaxy Zoo and Moon Zoo projects also have the highest average correct scores on the items of the ZACS and LCCI. However, the limited nature of the data provided by Zooniverse participants prevents us from being able to evaluate the statistical significance of this finding, and we make no claim about whether there is a causal relationship between one's participation in Galaxy Zoo or Moon Zoo and one's level of conceptual understanding or reasoning ability on the astrophysical topics assessed by the ZACS or the LCCI. Overall, both the ZACS and the LCCI provide Zooniverse's citizen scientists with items that offer a wide range of difficulties. Using the data from the small subset of participants who responded to all items of the ZACS, we found evidence suggesting the ZACS is a reliable instrument (α=0.78), although twenty-one of its forty items appear to have point biserials less than 0.3. The work reported here provides significant insight into the strengths and limitations of various methods for administering assessments to citizen scientists. Researchers who wish to study the knowledge and abilities of citizen scientists in the future should be sure to design their research methods to avoid the pitfalls identified by our initial findings. © 2013 The American Astronomical Society.


Sir Patrick Moore, 'The Sky at Night' and modern astronomy in the UK

ASTRONOMY & GEOPHYSICS 54 (2013) 37-38

P Abel, C Lintott, M Barstow


Erratum: Planet hunters. V. A confirmed jupiter-size planet in the habitable zone and 42 planet candidates from the kepler archive data (ApJ (2013) 776 (10))

Astrophysical Journal Institute of Physics Publishing 778 (2013)

J Wang, DA Fischer, T Barclay, TS Boyajian, JR Crepp, ME Schwamb, C Lintott, KJ Jek, AM Smith, M Parrish, K Schawinski, JR Schmitt, MJ Giguere, JM Brewer, S Lynn, R Simpson, AJ Hoekstra, TL Jacobs, D Lacourse, HM Schwengeler, M Chopin, R Herszkowicz


The Milky Way Project: A statistical study of massive star formation associated with infrared bubbles

ArXiv (2012)

S Kendrew, RJ Simpson, E Bressert, MS Povich, R Sherman, C Lintott, TP Robitaille, K Schawinski, G Wolf-Chase

The Milky Way Project citizen science initiative recently increased the number of known infrared bubbles in the inner Galactic plane by an order of magnitude compared to previous studies. We present a detailed statistical analysis of this dataset with the Red MSX Source catalog of massive young stellar sources to investigate the association of these bubbles with massive star formation. We particularly address the question of massive triggered star formation near infrared bubbles. We find a strong positional correlation of massive young stellar objects (MYSOs) and H II regions with Milky Way Project bubbles at separations of < 2 bubble radii. As bubble sizes increase, a statistically significant overdensity of massive young sources emerges in the region of the bubble rims, possibly indicating the occurrence of triggered star formation. Based on numbers of bubble-associated RMS sources we find that 67+/-3% of MYSOs and (ultra)compact H II regions appear associated with a bubble. We estimate that approximately 22+/-2% of massive young stars may have formed as a result of feedback from expanding H II regions. Using MYSO-bubble correlations, we serendipitously recovered the location of the recently discovered massive cluster Mercer 81, suggesting the potential of such analyses for discovery of heavily extincted distant clusters.


Planet Hunters: Assessing the Kepler Inventory of Short Period Planets

ArXiv (2012)

ME Schwamb, CJ Lintott, DA Fischer, MJ Giguere, S Lynn, AM Smith, JM Brewer, M Parrish, K Schawinski, RJ Simpson

We present the results from a search of data from the first 33.5 days of the Kepler science mission (Quarter 1) for exoplanet transits by the Planet Hunters citizen science project. Planet Hunters enlists members of the general public to visually identify transits in the publicly released Kepler light curves via the World Wide Web. Over 24,000 volunteers reviewed the Kepler Quarter 1 data set. We examine the abundance of \geq 2 R\oplus planets on short period (< 15 days) orbits based on Planet Hunters detections. We present these results along with an analysis of the detection efficiency of human classifiers to identify planetary transits including a comparison to the Kepler inventory of planet candidates. Although performance drops rapidly for smaller radii, \geq 4 R\oplus Planet Hunters \geq 85% efficient at identifying transit signals for planets with periods less than 15 days for the Kepler sample of target stars. Our high efficiency rate for simulated transits along with recovery of the majority of Kepler \geq 4 R\oplus planets suggest suggests the Kepler inventory of \geq 4 R\oplus short period planets is nearly complete.


The History and Environment of a Faded Quasar: Hubble Space Telescope observations of Hanny's Voorwerp and IC 2497

ArXiv (2012)

WC Keel, CJ Lintott, K Schawinski, VN Bennert, D Thomas, A Manning, SD Chojnowski, HV Arkel, S Lynn

We present Hubble Space Telescope imaging and spectroscopy for the extended high-ionization cloud known as Hanny's Voorwerp, near the spiral galaxy IC 2497. WFC3 images show complex dust absorption near the nucleus of IC 2497. STIS spectra show a type 2 Seyfert AGN of rather low luminosity. The ionization parameter log U = -3.5 is in accord with its weak X-ray emission. We find no high-ionization gas near the nucleus, adding to evidence that the AGN is currently at low radiative output (perhaps now dominated by kinetic energy). The nucleus is accompanied by an expanding ring of ionized gas 500 pc in projected diameter on the side opposite Hanny's Voorwerp, with Doppler offset 300 km/s from the nucleus (kinematic age < 7 x10^5 years). [O III] and H-alpha + [N II] images show fine structure in Hanny's Voorwerp, with limb-brightened sections and small areas where H-alpha is strong. We identify these as regions ionized by recent star formation, in contrast to the AGN ionization of the entire cloud. These candidate "normal" H II regions contain blue continuum objects, whose colors are consistent with young stellar populations; they appear only in a 2-kpc region toward IC 2497 in projection. The ionization-sensitive ratio [O III]/H-alpha shows no discernible pattern near the prominent "hole" in the ionized gas. The independence of ionization and surface brightness suggests that substantial spatial structure remains unresolved, to such an extent that the surface brightness sample the number of denser filaments rather than the characteristic density in emission regions. These results fit with our picture of an ionization echo from an AGN whose ionizing luminosity has dropped by a factor > 100 (and possibly much more) within the last 1-2 x 10^5 years; we suggest a sequence of events and discuss implications of such rapid fluctuations for AGN demographics. (Abridged)


Galaxy Zoo and ALFALFA: Atomic Gas and the Regulation of Star Formation in Barred Disc Galaxies

ArXiv (2012)

KL Masters, RC Nichol, MP Haynes, WC Keel, C Lintott, B Simmons, R Skibba, S Bamford, R Giovanelli, K Schawinski

We study the observed correlation between atomic gas content and the likelihood of hosting a large scale bar in a sample of 2090 disc galaxies. Such a test has never been done before on this scale. We use data on morphologies from the Galaxy Zoo project and information on the galaxies' HI content from the ALFALFA blind HI survey. Our main result is that the bar fraction is significantly lower among gas rich disc galaxies than gas poor ones. This is not explained by known trends for more massive (stellar) and redder disc galaxies to host more bars and have lower gas fractions: we still see at fixed stellar mass a residual correlation between gas content and bar fraction. We discuss three possible causal explanations: (1) bars in disc galaxies cause atomic gas to be used up more quickly, (2) increasing the atomic gas content in a disc galaxy inhibits bar formation, and (3) bar fraction and gas content are both driven by correlation with environmental effects (e.g. tidal triggering of bars, combined with strangulation removing gas). All three explanations are consistent with the observed correlations. In addition our observations suggest bars may reduce or halt star formation in the outer parts of discs by holding back the infall of external gas beyond bar co-rotation, reddening the global colours of barred disc galaxies. This suggests that secular evolution driven by the exchange of angular momentum between stars in the bar, and gas in the disc, acts as a feedback mechanism to regulate star formation in intermediate mass disc galaxies.


Chandra Observations of Galaxy Zoo Mergers: Frequency of Binary Active Nuclei in Massive Mergers

ArXiv (2012)

SH Teng, K Schawinski, CM Urry, DW Darg, S Kaviraj, K Oh, EW Bonning, CN Cardamone, WC Keel, CJ Lintott, BD Simmons, E Treister

We present the results from a Chandra pilot study of 12 massive galaxy mergers selected from Galaxy Zoo. The sample includes major mergers down to a host galaxy mass of 10$^{11}$ $M_\odot$ that already have optical AGN signatures in at least one of the progenitors. We find that the coincidences of optically selected active nuclei with mildly obscured ($N_H \lesssim 1.1 \times 10^{22}$ cm$^{-2}$) X-ray nuclei are relatively common (8/12), but the detections are too faint ($< 40$ counts per nucleus; $f_{2-10 keV} \lesssim 1.2 \times 10^{-13}$ erg s$^{-1}$ cm$^{-2}$) to reliably separate starburst and nuclear activity as the origin of the X-ray emission. Only one merger is found to have confirmed binary X-ray nuclei, though the X-ray emission from its southern nucleus could be due solely to star formation. Thus, the occurrences of binary AGN in these mergers are rare (0-8%), unless most merger-induced active nuclei are very heavily obscured or Compton thick.


Galaxy Zoo: Dust lane early-type galaxies are tracers of recent, gas-rich minor mergers

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 423 (2012) 59-67

SS Shabala, Y-S Ting, S Kaviraj, C Lintott, RM Crockett, J Silk, M Sarzi, K Schawinski, SP Bamford, E Edmondson

We present the second of two papers concerning the origin and evolution of local early-type galaxies exhibiting dust features. We use optical and radio data to examine the nature of active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity in these objects, and compare these with a carefully constructed control sample. We find that dust lane early-type galaxies are much more likely to host emission-line AGN than the control sample galaxies. Moreover, there is a strong correlation between radio and emission-line AGN activity in dust lane early types, but not the control sample. Dust lane early-type galaxies show the same distribution of AGN properties in rich and poor environments, suggesting a similar triggering mechanism. By contrast, this is not the case for early types with no dust features. These findings strongly suggest that dust lane early-type galaxies are starburst systems formed in gas-rich mergers. Further evidence in support of this scenario is provided by enhanced star formation and black hole accretion rates in these objects. Dust lane early types therefore represent an evolutionary stage between starbursting and quiescent galaxies. In these objects, the AGN has already been triggered but has not as yet completely destroyed the gas reservoir required for star formation. © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.