Welcome to the Traces of Galaxy Formation research group website.
We are a large, diverse, and very active research group aiming to provide a comprehensive picture for the formation of galaxies in the Universe. Rooted in detailed stellar population analysis, we are constantly exploring and developing new tools and ideas to understand how galaxies came to be what we now observe.
A complex star formation history, as the one expected to describe galaxy evolution, needs a multidisciplinary approach to be fully understood. Our group at the IAC consists of experienced researchers in cosmological simulations, dynamical studies, stellar populations and morphological properties of galaxies up to high redshift. We combine different approaches (e.g. observations and theory, secular and cosmological evolution studies) to obtain a complete view of the dominant mechanisms driving the evolution of galaxies.
Within this general framework, we are currently exploring three main areas of research:
- Stellar population synthesis models
- Development of new stellar population synthesis models
- Stellar population analysis tools
- Universality of the stellar initial mass function (IMF)
- Cosmic evolution of galaxies
- Massive galaxy evolution
- Stellar populations in different environments
- Low surface brightness science
- Machine learning and cosmological simulations
- Evolutionary processes in nearby galaxies
- The role of black holes in the evolution of galaxies
- Surveys of nearby galaxies
- Stellar kinematics and dynamical models
If you want to get in contact or work with us, please send an email to the head of the group (Ignacio Martín-Navarro ignacio.martin [at] iac.es).
Here you can find some of our most recent highlights:
- Local variations of the stellar velocity ellipsoid - II. The effect of the bar in the inner regions of Auriga galaxies. Walo et al. 2022, MNRAS (https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2022MNRAS.513.4587W)
- Anisotropic satellite galaxy quenching modulated by black hole activity. Martín-Navarro et al. 2021, Nature (https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2021Natur.594..187M)
- Evaluating hydrodynamical simulations with green valley galaxies. Angthopo et al. 2021, MNRAS (https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2021MNRAS.502.3685A)
- Sub one per cent mass fractions of young stars in red massive galaxies. Salvador-Rusiñol et al. 2020, Nature Astronomy (https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2020NatAs...4..252S)
- Detection of young stellar populations in apparently quenched low-mass galaxies using red spectral line indices. de Lorenzo-Cáceres et al. 2020, MNRAS (https://ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2020MNRAS.498.1002D)
A New Era of Intracluster Light Studies with JWST
Still largely unexplored, the diffuse light in clusters of galaxies traces the past and ongoing buildup of these massive structures. Here we present the first comprehensive study of the intracluster light (ICL) of the cluster SMACS J0723.3-7327 (z = 0.39) using the JWST Early Release Observations. These deep and high spatial resolution images allowMontes, Mireia et al.
The survival of stellar discs in Fornax-like environments, from TNG50 to real galaxies
We study the evolution of kinematically defined stellar discs in 10 Fornax-like clusters identified in the TNG50 run from the IllustrisTNG suite of cosmological simulations. We considered disc galaxies with present-day stellar mass M⋆ ≥ 3 × 108 M⊙ and follow their evolution since first entering their host cluster. Very few stellar discs surviveGalán-de Anta, Pablo M. et al.
The SAMI-Fornax Dwarfs Survey - II. The Stellar Mass Fundamental Plane and the dark matter fraction of dwarf galaxies
We explore the kinematic scaling relations of 38 dwarf galaxies in the Fornax Cluster using observations from the SAMI integral field spectrograph. We focus on the Fundamental Plane (FP), defined by the physical properties of the objects (scale length, surface brightness, and velocity dispersion) and the Stellar Mass (Fundamental) Plane, whereEftekhari, F. Sara et al.
The edges of galaxies: Tracing the limits of star formation
The outskirts of galaxies have been studied from multiple perspectives for the past few decades. However, it is still unknown if all galaxies have clear-cut edges similar to everyday objects. We address this question by developing physically motivated criteria to define the edges of galaxies. Based on the gas density threshold required for starChamba, Nushkia et al.
On the accretion of a new group of galaxies on to Virgo - II. The effect of pre-processing on the stellar population content of dEs
Using MUSE spectra, we investigate how pre-processing and accretion on to a galaxy cluster affect the integrated stellar population properties of dwarf early-type galaxies (dEs). We analyse a sample of nine dEs with stellar masses of $\rm \sim 10^9 \, M_\odot$, which were accreted (~ 2-3 Gyr ago) on to the Virgo cluster as members of a massiveBidaran, Bahar et al.
The Fornax3D project: Discovery of ancient massive merger events in the Fornax cluster galaxies NGC 1380 and NGC 1427
We report the discovery of ancient massive merger events in the early-type galaxies NGC 1380 and NGC 1427, members of the Fornax galaxy cluster. Both galaxies have been observed by the MUSE integral-field-unit instrument on the VLT as part of the Fornax3D project. By fitting recently developed population-orbital superposition models to the observedZhu, Ling et al.
Fornax3D project: Assembly history of massive early-type galaxies in the Fornax cluster from deep imaging and integral field spectroscopy
This work is based on high-quality integral-field spectroscopic data obtained with the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) on the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The 21 brightest (mB ≤ 15 mag) early-type galaxies (ETGs) inside the virial radius of the Fornax cluster are observed out to distances of ∼2−3 Re. Deep imaging from the VLT SurveySpavone, M. et al.
The Fornax3D project: intrinsic correlations between orbital properties and the stellar initial mass function
Variations of the stellar initial mass function (IMF) in external galaxies have been inferred from a variety of independent probes. Yet the physical conditions causing these variations remain largely unknown. In this work, we explore new spatially resolved measurements of the IMF for three edge-on lenticular galaxies in the Fornax cluster. WePoci, A. et al.
Local variations of the stellar velocity ellipsoid - II. The effect of the bar in the inner regions of Auriga galaxies
Theoretical works have shown that off-plane motions of bars can heat stars in the vertical direction during buckling but is not clear how do they affect the rest of components of the stellar velocity ellipsoid (SVE). We study the 2D spatial distribution of the vertical, σz, azimuthal, σϕ, and radial, σr velocity dispersions in the inner regions ofWalo-Martín, Daniel et al.
Modelling simple stellar populations in the near-ultraviolet to near-infrared with the X-shooter Spectral Library (XSL)
We present simple stellar population models based on the empirical X-shooter Spectral Library (XSL) from near-ultraviolet (NUV) to near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths. The unmatched characteristics of the relatively high resolution and extended wavelength coverage (350-2480 nm, R ∼ 10 000) of the XSL population models bring us closer to bridgingVerro, K. et al.
The Fornax3D project: The environmental impact on gas metallicity gradients in Fornax cluster galaxies
The role played by environment in galaxy evolution is a topic of ongoing debate among astronomers. There has been little success in elucidating the degree to which environment can alter, re-shape, or drive galaxy evolution, that is, using either observations or simulations. However, our knowledge of the effect of environment on gas metallicityLara-López, M. A. et al.
The X-shooter Spectral Library (XSL): Data Release 3
We present the third data release (DR3) of the X-shooter Spectral Library (XSL). This moderate-to-high resolution, near-ultraviolet-to-near-infrared (350-2480 nm, R ∼ 10 000) spectral library is composed of 830 stellar spectra of 683 stars. DR3 improves upon the previous data release by providing the combined de-reddened spectra of the three XVerro, K. et al.
Implications for galaxy formation models from observations of globular clusters around ultradiffuse galaxies
We present an analysis of Hubble Space Telescope observations of globular clusters (GCs) in six ultradiffuse galaxies (UDGs) in the Coma cluster, a sample that represents UDGs with large effective radii (Re), and use the results to evaluate competing formation models. We eliminate two significant sources of systematic uncertainty in theSaifollahi, Teymoor et al.
The dark side of galaxy stellar populations - I. The stellar-to-halo mass relation and the velocity dispersion-halo mass relation
The growth and properties of galaxies are thought to be closely connected to the ones of their host dark matter haloes. Despite the importance of this so-called galaxy-halo connection, the potential role of dark matter haloes in regulating observed galaxy properties remains yet to be fully understood. In this work, we derive the ages, metallicitesScholz-Díaz, Laura et al.
CO-CAVITY pilot survey: Molecular gas and star formation in void galaxies
Context. Voids are the most under-dense large-scale regions in the Universe. Galaxies inhabiting voids are one of the keys for understanding the intrinsic processes of galaxy evolution, as external factors such as multiple galaxy mergers or a dense self-collapsing environment are negligible. Aims: We present the first molecular gas mass survey ofDomínguez-Gómez, J. et al.
The Fornax3D project: Planetary nebulae catalogue and independent distance measurements to Fornax cluster galaxies
Extragalactic planetary nebulae (PNe) offer a way to determine the distance to their host galaxies thanks to the nearly universal shape of the planetary nebulae luminosity function (PNLF). Accurate PNe distance measurements rely on obtaining well-sampled PNLFs and the number of observed PNe scales with the encompassed stellar mass. This meansSpriggs, T. W. et al.
Capturing the Physics of MaNGA Galaxies with Self-supervised Machine Learning
As available data sets grow in size and complexity, advanced visualization tools enabling their exploration and analysis become more important. In modern astronomy, integral field spectroscopic galaxy surveys are a clear example of increasing high dimensionality and complex data sets, which challenges the traditional methods used to extract theSarmiento, Regina et al.
Chronos: A NIR spectroscopic galaxy survey to probe the most fundamental stages of galaxy evolution
We propose a dedicated, ultra-deep spectroscopic survey in the near infrared (NIR), that will target a mass-limited sample of galaxies during two of the most fundamental epochs of cosmic evolution: the formation of the first galaxies (at z ≳ 6; cosmic dawn), and at the peak of galaxy formation activity (at redshift z∼1-3; cosmic noon). By way ofFerreras, I. et al.
Physically Motivated Fit to Mass Surface Density Profiles Observed in Galaxies
Polytropes have gained renewed interest because they account for several seemingly disconnected observational properties of galaxies. Here we study whether polytropes are also able to explain the stellar mass distribution within galaxies. We develop a code to fit surface density profiles using polytropes projected in the plane of the sky (propols)Sánchez Almeida, Jorge et al.
Rejuvenation triggers nuclear activity in nearby galaxies
Feedback, in particular from active galactic nuclei (AGN), is believed to play a crucial role in the evolution of galaxies. In the local Universe, many galaxies with an AGN are indeed observed to reside in the so-called green valley, usually interpreted as a transition phase from a blue star-forming to a red quenched state. We use data from theMartín-Navarro, Ignacio et al.
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