Traces of Galaxy Formation: Stellar populations, Dynamics and Morphology


    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:

    1. Stellar population synthesis models
      • Development of new stellar population synthesis models
      • Stellar population analysis tools
      • Universality of the stellar initial mass function (IMF)
    2. Cosmic evolution of galaxies
      • Massive galaxy evolution
      • Stellar populations in different environments
      • Low surface brightness science
      • Machine learning and cosmological simulations
    3. 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]

    Here you can find some of our most recent highlights:

    Related publications

    • Spectro-photometric close pairs in GOODS-S: major and minor companions of intermediate-mass galaxies

      Aims: Recent work has shown that major mergers of disc galaxies can only account for 20% of the growth of the galaxy red sequence between z = 1 and z = 0. Our goal here is to provide merger frequencies that encompass both major and minor mergers, derived from close pair statistics. We aim to show that reliable close pair statistics can be derived

      López-Sanjuan, C. et al.

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    • On the Connection of the Apparent Proper Motion and the VLBI Structure of Compact Radio Sources

      Many of the compact extragalactic radio sources that are used as fiducial points to define the celestial reference frame are known to have proper motions detectable with long-term geodetic/astrometric very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) measurements. These changes can be as high as several hundred microarcseconds per year for certain objects

      Moór, A. et al.

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    • On the buildup of massive early-type galaxies at z ⪉ 1. I. Reconciling their hierarchical assembly with mass downsizing

      Context. Several studies have tried to ascertain whether the increase in abundance of the early-type galaxies (E-S0a's) with time is mainly due to major mergers, but have reached opposite conclusions. Aims: We have tested it directly through semi-analytical modelling, quantifying the possible contribution of the observed major mergers to the

      Eliche-Moral, M. C. et al.

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    • Color Profiles of Spiral Galaxies: Clues on Outer-Disk Formation Scenarios

      We have explored radial color and stellar surface mass density profiles for a sample of 85 late-type spiral galaxies with deep (down to ~27 mag arcsec-2) SDSS g'- and r'-band surface brightness profiles. About 90% of the light profiles have been classified as broken exponentials, exhibiting either truncations (Type II galaxies) or antitruncations

      Bakos, Judit et al.

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    • Are dry mergers dry, moist or wet?

      We present a spectral analysis of a sample of red-sequence galaxies identified by van Dokkum as dry merger remnants and ongoing dry mergers. Kinematics, stellar population absorption features and ionization from emission lines are derived. We find that approximately half of the sample showing strong tidal features have younger stellar populations

      Sánchez-Blázquez, P. et al.

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    • Constraining the formation of inner bars: photometry, kinematics and stellar populations in NGC 357

      Double-barred galaxies are common in the local Universe, with approximately one-third of barred spirals hosting a smaller, inner bar. Nested bars have been proposed as a mechanism to transport gas to the very central regions of the galaxy, trigger star formation and contribute to the growth of the bulge. To test this idea, we perform for the first

      de Lorenzo-Cáceres, A. et al.

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    • CALIFA, the Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area survey. I. Survey presentation

      The final product of galaxy evolution through cosmic time is the population of galaxies in the local universe. These galaxies are also those that can be studied in most detail, thus providing a stringent benchmark for our understanding of galaxy evolution. Through the huge success of spectroscopic single-fiber, statistical surveys of the Local

      Sánchez, S. F. et al.

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    • A minor merger origin for stellar inner discs and rings in spiral galaxies

      Context. Observations have shown that inner discs and rings (IDs and IRs) are not preferably found in barred galaxies, which indicates that their formation may differ from that described by the traditional bar-origin scenario in many cases. In contrast, the role of minor mergers in producing these inner components (ICs), while often invoked, is

      Eliche-Moral, M. C. et al.

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