From Naked Spheroids to Disky Galaxies: How Do Massive Disk Galaxies Shape Their Morphology?

Costantin, Luca; Pérez-González, Pablo G.; Méndez-Abreu, Jairo; Huertas-Company, Marc; Pampliega, Belén Alcalde; Balcells, Marc; Barro, Guillermo; Ceverino, Daniel; Dimauro, Paola; Sánchez, Helena Domínguez; Espino-Briones, Néstor; Koekemoer, Anton M.
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The Astrophysical Journal

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We investigate the assembly history of massive disk galaxies and describe how they shape their morphology through cosmic time. Using SHARDS and HST data, we modeled the surface brightness distribution of 91 massive galaxies at redshift 0.14 < z ≤ 1 in the wavelength range 0.5-1.6 μm, deriving the uncontaminated spectral energy distributions of their bulges and disks separately. This spectrophotometric decomposition allows us to compare the stellar population properties of each component in individual galaxies. We find that the majority of massive galaxies (~85%) build inside-out, growing their extended stellar disk around the central spheroid. Some bulges and disks could start forming at similar epochs, but these bulges grow more rapidly than their disks, assembling 80% of their mass in ~0.7 and ~3.5 Gyr, respectively. Moreover, we infer that both older bulges and older disks are more massive and compact than younger stellar structures. In particular, we find that bulges display a bimodal distribution of mass-weighted ages; i.e., they form in two waves. In contrast, our analysis of the disk components indicates that they form at z ~ 1 for both first- and second-wave bulges. This translates to first-wave bulges taking longer to acquire a stellar disk (5.2 Gyr) compared to second-wave, less compact spheroids (0.7 Gyr). We do not find distinct properties (e.g., mass, star formation timescale, and mass surface density) for the disks in both types of galaxies. We conclude that the bulge mass and compactness mainly regulate the timing of the stellar disk growth, driving the morphological evolution of massive disk galaxies.
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