Publications by Chris Lintott


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

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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.


The Ultraviolet Attenuation Law in Backlit Spiral Galaxies

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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.


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

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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.


Galaxy Zoo: Bulgeless Galaxies With Growing Black Holes

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BD Simmons, C Lintott, K Schawinski, EC Moran, A Han, S Kaviraj, KL Masters, CM Urry, KW Willett, SP Bamford, RC Nichol

The growth of supermassive black holes appears to be driven by galaxy mergers, violent merger-free processes and/or `secular' processes. In order to quantify the effects of secular evolution on black hole growth, we study a sample of active galactic nuclei (AGN) in galaxies with a calm formation history free of significant mergers, a population that heretofore has been difficult to locate. Here we present an initial sample of 13 AGN in massive (M_* >~ 1e10 M_sun) bulgeless galaxies -- which lack the classical bulges believed inevitably to result from mergers -- selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey using visual classifications from Galaxy Zoo. Parametric morphological fitting confirms the host galaxies lack classical bulges; any contributions from pseudobulges are very small (typically < 5%). We compute black hole masses for the two broad-line objects in the sample (4.2e6 and 1.2e7 M_sun) and place lower limits on black hole masses for the remaining sample (typically M_BH >~ 1e6 M_sun), showing that significant black hole growth must be possible in the absence of mergers or violent disk instabilities. The black hole masses are systematically higher than expected from established bulge-black hole relations. However, if the mean Eddington ratio of the systems with measured black hole masses (L/L_Edd = 0.065) is typical, 10 of 13 sources are consistent with the correlation between black hole mass and total stellar mass. That pure disk galaxies and their central black holes may be consistent with a relation derived from elliptical and bulge-dominated galaxies with very different formation histories implies the details of stellar galaxy evolution and dynamics may not be fundamental to the co-evolution of galaxies and black holes.


Galaxy Zoo: A Catalog of Overlapping Galaxy Pairs for Dust Studies

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WC Keel, A Manning, BW Holwerda, M Mezzoprete, CJ Lintott, K Schawinski, P Gay, KL Masters

Analysis of galaxies with overlapping images offers a direct way to probe the distribution of dust extinction and its effects on the background light. We present a catalog of 1990 such galaxy pairs selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) by volunteers of the Galaxy Zoo project. We highlight subsamples which are particularly useful for retrieving such properties of the dust distribution as UV extinction, the extent perpendicular to the disk plane, and extinction in the inner parts of disks. The sample spans wide ranges of morphology and surface brightness, opening up the possibility of using this technique to address systematic changes in dust extinction or distribution with galaxy type. This sample will form the basis for forthcoming work on the ranges of dust distributions in local disk galaxies, both for their astrophysical implications and as the low-redshift part of a study of the evolution of dust properties. Separate lists and figures show deep overlaps, where the inner regions of the foreground galaxy are backlit, and the relatively small number of previously-known overlapping pairs outside the SDSS DR7 sky coverage.


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

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S Kaviraj, K Rowlands, M Alpaslan, L Dunne, Y-S Ting, M Bureau, S Shabala, CJ Lintott, DJB Smith, TH-ATLAS 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%.


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

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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.


Galaxy Zoo: building the low-mass end of the red sequence with local post-starburst galaxies

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OI Wong, K Schawinski, S Kaviraj, KL Masters, RC Nichol, C Lintott, WC Keel, D Darg, SP Bamford, D Andreescu, P Murray, MJ Raddick, A Szalay, D Thomas, J VandenBerg

We present a study of local post-starburst galaxies (PSGs) using the photometric and spectroscopic observations from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the results from the Galaxy Zoo project. We find that the majority of our local PSG population have neither early- nor late- type morphologies but occupy a well-defined space within the colour-stellar mass diagram, most notably, the low-mass end of the "green valley" below the transition mass thought to be the mass division between low-mass star-forming galaxies and high-mass passively-evolving bulge-dominated galaxies. Our analysis suggests that it is likely that a local PSG will quickly transform into "red", low-mass early-type galaxies as the stellar morphologies of the "green" PSGs largely resemble that of the early-type galaxies within the same mass range. We propose that the current population of PSGs represents a population of galaxies which is rapidly transitioning between the star-forming and the passively-evolving phases. Subsequently, these PSGs will contribute towards the build-up of the low-mass end of the "red sequence" once the current population of young stars fade and stars are no longer being formed. These results are consistent with the idea of "downsizing" where the build-up of smaller galaxies occurs at later epochs.


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

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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)


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

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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.


Tidal dwarf galaxies in the nearby Universe

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S Kaviraj, D Darg, C Lintott, K Schawinski, J Silk

We present a statistical observational study of the tidal dwarf (TD) population in the nearby Universe, by exploiting a large, homogeneous catalogue of galaxy mergers compiled from the SDSS. 95% of TD-producing mergers involve two spiral progenitors, while most remaining systems have at least one spiral progenitor. The fraction of TD-producing mergers where both parents are early-type galaxies is <2%, suggesting that TDs are unlikely to form in such mergers. The bulk of TD-producing systems inhabit a field environment and have mass ratios greater than 1:7 (the median value is 1:2.5). TDs forming at the tidal-tail tips are ~4 times more massive than those forming at the base of the tails. TDs have stellar masses that are less than 10% of the stellar masses of their parents and typically lie within 15 optical half-light radii of their parent galaxies. The TD population is typically bluer than the parents, with a median offset of ~0.3 mag in the (g-r) colour and the TD colours are not affected by the presence of AGN activity in their parents. An analysis of their star formation histories indicates that TDs contain both newly formed stars (with a median age of ~30 Myr) and old stars drawn from the parent disks, each component probably contributing roughly equally to their stellar mass. Thus, TDs are not formed purely through gas condensation in tidal tails but host a significant component of old stars from the parent disks. Finally, an analysis of the TD contribution to the local dwarf-to-massive galaxy ratio indicates that ~6% of dwarfs in nearby clusters may have a tidal origin, if TD production rates in nearby mergers are representative of those in the high-redshift Universe. Even if TD production rates at high redshift were several factors higher, it seems unlikely that the entire dwarf galaxy population today is a result of merger activity over the lifetime of the Universe.


The distribution of interplanetary dust between 0.96 and 1.04 AU as inferred from impacts on the STEREO spacecraft observed by the Heliospheric Imagers

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CJ Davis, JA Davies, OCS Cyr, M Campbell-Brown, A Skelt, M Kaiser, N Meyer-Vernet, S Crothers, C Lintott, A Smith, S Bamford, EML Baeten

The distribution of dust in the ecliptic plane between 0.96 and 1.04 AU has been inferred from impacts on the two STEREO spacecraft through observation of secondary particle trails and unexpected off-points in the Heliospheric Imager (HI) cameras. This study made use of analysis carried out by members of a distributed web-based project, Solar Stormwatch. A comparison between observations of the brightest particle trails and a survey of fainter trails shows consistent distributions. While there is no obvious correlation between this distribution and the occurrence of individual meteor streams at Earth, there are some broad longitudinal features in these distributions that are also observed in sources of the sporadic meteor population. The asymmetry in the number of trails seen by each spacecraft and the fact that there are many more unexpected off-points in the HI-B than in HI-A, indicates that the majority of impacts are coming from the apex direction. For impacts causing off-points in the HI-B camera these dust particles are estimated to have masses in excess of 10-17 kg with radii exceeding 0.1 {\mu}m. For off-points observed in the HI-A images, which can only have been caused by particles travelling from the anti-apex direction, the distribution is consistent with that of secondary 'storm' trails observed by HI-B, providing evidence that these trails also result from impacts with primary particles from an anti-apex source. It is apparent that the differential mass index of particles from the apex direction is consistently above 2. This indicates that the majority of the mass is within the smaller particles of this population. In contrast, the differential mass index of particles from the anti-apex direction (causing off-points in HI-A) is consistently below 2, indicating that the majority of the mass is to be found in larger particles of this distribution.


Galaxy Zoo Supernovae

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AM Smith, S Lynn, M Sullivan, CJ Lintott, PE Nugent, J Botyanszki, M Kasliwal, R Quimby, SP Bamford, LF Fortson, K Schawinski, I Hook, S Blake, P Podsiadlowski, J Joensson, A Gal-Yam, I Arcavi, DA Howell, JS Bloom, J Jacobsen, SR Kulkarni, NM Law, EO Ofek, R Walters

This paper presents the first results from a new citizen science project: Galaxy Zoo Supernovae. This proof of concept project uses members of the public to identify supernova candidates from the latest generation of wide-field imaging transient surveys. We describe the Galaxy Zoo Supernovae operations and scoring model, and demonstrate the effectiveness of this novel method using imaging data and transients from the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF). We examine the results collected over the period April-July 2010, during which nearly 14,000 supernova candidates from PTF were classified by more than 2,500 individuals within a few hours of data collection. We compare the transients selected by the citizen scientists to those identified by experienced PTF scanners, and find the agreement to be remarkable - Galaxy Zoo Supernovae performs comparably to the PTF scanners, and identified as transients 93% of the ~130 spectroscopically confirmed SNe that PTF located during the trial period (with no false positive identifications). Further analysis shows that only a small fraction of the lowest signal-to-noise SN detections (r > 19.5) are given low scores: Galaxy Zoo Supernovae correctly identifies all SNe with > 8{\sigma} detections in the PTF imaging data. The Galaxy Zoo Supernovae project has direct applicability to future transient searches such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, by both rapidly identifying candidate transient events, and via the training and improvement of existing machine classifier algorithms.


Galaxy Zoo 1 : Data Release of Morphological Classifications for nearly 900,000 galaxies

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C Lintott, K Schawinski, S Bamford, A Slosar, K Land, D Thomas, E Edmondson, K Masters, R Nichol, J Raddick, A Szalay, D Andreescu, P Murray, J Vandenberg

Morphology is a powerful indicator of a galaxy's dynamical and merger history. It is strongly correlated with many physical parameters, including mass, star formation history and the distribution of mass. The Galaxy Zoo project collected simple morphological classifications of nearly 900,000 galaxies drawn from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, contributed by hundreds of thousands of volunteers. This large number of classifications allows us to exclude classifier error, and measure the influence of subtle biases inherent in morphological classification. This paper presents the data collected by the project, alongside measures of classification accuracy and bias. The data are now publicly available and full catalogues can be downloaded in electronic format from http://data.galaxyzoo.org.


Galaxy Zoo: Dust in Spirals

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KL Masters, RC Nichol, S Bamford, M Mosleh, CJ Lintott, D Andreescu, EM Edmondson, WC Keel, P Murray, MJ Raddick, K Schawinski, A Slosar, AS Szalay, D Thomas, J Vandenberg

We investigate the effect of dust on spiral galaxies by measuring the inclination-dependence of optical colours for 24,276 well-resolved SDSS galaxies visually classified in Galaxy Zoo. We find clear trends of reddening with inclination which imply a total extinction from face-on to edge-on of 0.7, 0.6, 0.5 and 0.4 magnitudes for the ugri passbands. We split the sample into "bulgy" (early-type) and "disky" (late-type) spirals using the SDSS fracdeV (or f_DeV) parameter and show that the average face-on colour of "bulgy" spirals is redder than the average edge-on colour of "disky" spirals. This shows that the observed optical colour of a spiral galaxy is determined almost equally by the spiral type (via the bulge-disk ratio and stellar populations), and reddening due to dust. We find that both luminosity and spiral type affect the total amount of extinction, with "disky" spirals at M_r ~ -21.5 mags having the most reddening. This decrease of reddening for the most luminous spirals has not been observed before and may be related to their lower levels of recent star formation. We compare our results with the latest dust attenuation models of Tuffs et al. We find that the model reproduces the observed trends reasonably well but overpredicts the amount of u-band attenuation in edge-on galaxies. We end by discussing the effects of dust on large galaxy surveys and emphasize that these effects will become important as we push to higher precision measurements of galaxy properties and their clustering.


Galaxy Zoo: The properties of merging galaxies in the nearby Universe - local environments, colours, masses, star-formation rates and AGN activity

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DW Darg, S Kaviraj, CJ Lintott, K Schawinski, M Sarzi, S Bamford, J Silk, D Andreescu, P Murray, RC Nichol, MJ Raddick, A Slosar, AS Szalay, D Thomas, J Vandenberg

Following the study of Darg et al. (2009; hereafter D09a) we explore the environments, optical colours, stellar masses, star formation and AGN activity in a sample of 3003 pairs of merging galaxies drawn from the SDSS using visual classifications from the Galaxy Zoo project. While D09a found that the spiral-to-elliptical ratio in (major) mergers appeared higher than that of the global galaxy population, no significant differences are found between the environmental distributions of mergers and a randomly selected control sample. This makes the high occurrence of spirals in mergers unlikely to be an environmental effect and must, therefore, arise from differing time-scales of detectability for spirals and ellipticals. We find that merging galaxies have a wider spread in colour than the global galaxy population, with a significant blue tail resulting from intense star formation in spiral mergers. Galaxies classed as star-forming using their emission-line properties have average star-formation rates approximately doubled by the merger process though star formation is negligibly enhanced in merging elliptical galaxies. We conclude that the internal properties of galaxies significantly affect the time-scales over which merging systems can be detected (as suggested by recent theoretical studies) which leads to spirals being `over-observed' in mergers. We also suggest that the transition mass $3\times10^{10}{M}_{\astrosun}$, noted by \citet{kauffmann1}, below which ellipticals are rare could be linked to disc survival/destruction in mergers.


Black hole growth and host galaxy morphology

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K Schawinski, CM Urry, S Virani, P Coppi, SP Bamford, E Treister, CJ Lintott, M Sarzi, WC Keel, S Kaviraj, CN Cardamone, KL Masters, NP Ross, TGZ team

We use data from large surveys of the local Universe (SDSS+Galaxy Zoo) to show that the galaxy-black hole connection is linked to host morphology at a fundamental level. The fraction of early-type galaxies with actively growing black holes, and therefore the AGN duty cycle, declines significantly with increasing black hole mass. Late-type galaxies exhibit the opposite trend: the fraction of actively growing black holes increases with black hole mass.


Galaxy Zoo: Chiral correlation function of galaxy spins

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A Slosar, K Land, S Bamford, C Lintott, D Andreescu, P Murray, R Nichol, MJ Raddick, K Schawinski, A Szalay, D Thomas, J Vandenberg

Galaxy Zoo is the first study of nearby galaxies that contains reliable information about the spiral sense of rotation of galaxy arms for a sizeable number of galaxies. We measure the correlation function of spin chirality (the sense in which galaxies appear to be spinning) of face-on spiral galaxies in angular, real and projected spaces. Our results indicate a hint of positive correlation at separations less than ~0.5 Mpc at a statistical significance of 2-3 sigma. This is the first experimental evidence for chiral correlation of spins. Within tidal torque theory it indicates that the inertia tensors of nearby galaxies are correlated. This is complementary to the studies of nearby spin axis correlations that probe the correlations of the tidal field. Theoretical interpretation is made difficult by the small distances at which the correlations are detected, implying that substructure might play a significant role, and our necessary selection of face-on spiral galaxies, rather than a general volume-limited sample.


Massive elliptical galaxies : From cores to haloes

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C Lintott, I Ferreras, O Lahav

In the context of recent observational results that show massive ellipticals were in place at high redshifts, we reassess the status of monolithic collapse in a LCDM universe. Using a sample of over 2000 galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, by comparing the dynamical mass and stellar mass (estimated from colours) we find that ellipticals have `cores' which are baryon-dominated within their half-light radius. These galaxies correspond to 3-sigma peaks in the spherical collapse model if the total mass in the halo is assumed to be 20 times the dynamical mass within the half-light radius. This value yields stellar mass to total mass ratios of 8%, compared to a cosmological baryon fraction of 18% derived from WMAP3 alone. We further develop a method for reconstructing the concentration halo parameter c of the progenitors of these galaxies by utilizing adiabatic contraction. Although the analysis is done within the framework of monolithic collapse, the resulting distribution of c is log-normal with a peak value of c~3-10 and a distribution width similar to the results of N-body simulations. We also derive scaling relations between stellar and dynamical mass and the velocity dispersion, and find that these are sufficient to recover the tilt of the fundamental plane.


Rapid Star Formation in the Presence of Active Galactic Nuclei

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C Lintott, S Viti

Recent observations reveal galaxies in the early Universe (2<z<6.4) with large reservoirs of molecular gas and extreme star formation rates. For a very large range of sources, a tight relationship exists between star formation rate and the luminosity of the HCN J=1-0 spectral line, but sources at redshifts of z~2 and beyond do not follow this trend. The deficit in HCN is conventionally explained by an excess of infrared (IR) radiation due to active galactic nuclei (AGN). We show in this letter not only that the presence of AGN cannot account for the excess of IR over molecular luminosity, but also that the observed abundance of HCN is in fact consistent with a population of stars forming from near-primordial gas.

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