Outer-disk reddening and gas-phase metallicities: The CALIFA connection

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We study, for the first time in a statistically significant and well-defined sample, the relation between the outer-disk ionized-gas metallicity gradients and the presence of breaks in the surface brightness profiles of disk galaxies. Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) g′- and r′-band surface brightness, (g′ – r′) color, and ionized-gasoxygen abundance profiles for 324 galaxies within the Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area (CALIFA) survey are used for this purpose. We perform a detailed light-profile classification, finding that 84% of our disks show down- or up-bending profiles (Type II and Type III, respectively), while the remaining 16% are well fitted by one single exponential (Type I). The analysis of the color gradients at both sides of this break shows a U-shaped profile for most Type II galaxies with an average minimum (g′ − r′) color of ~0.5  mag and an ionized-gas metallicity flattening associated with it only in the case of low-mass galaxies. Comparatively, more massive systems show a rather uniform negative metallicity gradient. The correlation between metallicity flattening and stellar mass for these systems results in p-values as low as 0.01. Independent of the mechanism having shaped the outer light profiles of these galaxies, stellar migration or a previous episode of star formation in a shrinking star-forming disk, it is clear that the imprint in their ionized-gas metallicity was different for low- and high-mass Type II galaxies. In the case of Type III disks, a positive correlation between the change in color and abundance gradient is found (the null hypothesis is ruled out with a p-value of 0.02), with the outer disks of Type III galaxies with masses ≤10^10 M_⊙ showing a weak color reddening or even a bluing. This is interpreted as primarily due to a mass downsizing effect on the population of Type III galaxies that recently experienced an enhanced inside-out growth.
© ESO, 2015. Artículo firmado por 29 autores. We are grateful to the anonymous referee for constructive comments and suggestions. R. A. Marino is funded by the Spanish program of International Campus of Excellence Moncloa (CEI). This study makes uses of the data provided by the Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area (CALIFA) survey ( CALIFA is the first legacy survey being performed at Calar Alto. The CALIFA collaboration would like to thank the IAA-CSIC and MPIA-MPG as major partners of the observatory, and CAHA itself, for the unique access to telescope time and support in manpower and infrastructures. The CALIFA collaboration thanks also the CAHA staff for their dedication to this project. We thank Carmen Eliche Moral and Antonio Cava for stimulating discussions at several points in the developments of this work. We acknowledge support from the Plan Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo funding programs, AyA2010-15081, AyA2012-30717 and AyA2013-46724P, of Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO). A.G.d.P. acknowledges the support from the FP7 Marie Curie Actions of the European Commission, via the Initial Training Network DAGAL under REA grant agreement PITN-GA-2011-289313. C.C.-T. thanks the support of the Spanish Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte by means of the FPU fellowship program. C.J.W. acknowledges support through the Marie Curie Career Integration Grant 303912. Support for L.G. is provided by the Ministry of Economy, Development, and Tourism's Millennium Science Initiative through grant IC 120009, awarded to The Millennium Institute of Astrophysics, MAS. L.G. acknowledges support by CONIC YT through FONDECYT grant 3140566. S.F.S. thanks the CONACYT-125180 and DGAPA-IA100815 projects for providing him support in this study. J.M.A. acknowledges support from the European Research Council Starting Grant (SEDmorph; P.I. V. Wild). P.P. is supported by FCT through the Investigador FCT Contract No. IF/01220/2013 and POPH/FSE (EC) by FEDER funding through the program COMPETE. He also acknowledges support by FCT under project FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-029170 (Reference FCT PTDC/FIS-AST/3214/2012), funded by FCT-MEC (PIDDAC) and FEDER (COMPETE).
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