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The luminosity functions and stellar masses of galactic disks and spheroids

Benson, A.J.; Frenk, C.S.; Sharples, R.M.

The luminosity functions and stellar masses of galactic disks and spheroids Thumbnail


A.J. Benson


We present a method to obtain quantitative measures of galaxy morphology and apply it to a spectroscopic sample of field galaxies in order to determine the luminosity and stellar mass functions of galactic disks and spheroids. For our sample of approximately 600 galaxies, we estimate, for each galaxy, the bulge-to-disk luminosity ratio in the I band using a two-dimensional image fitting procedure. Monte Carlo simulations indicate that reliable determinations are only possible for galaxies approximately 2 mag brighter than the photometric completeness limit, leaving a sample of 90 galaxies with well-determined bulge-to-total light ratios. Using our measurements of individual disk and bulge luminosities for these 90 galaxies, we construct the luminosity functions of disks and spheroids and, using a stellar population synthesis model, we estimate the stellar mass functions of each of these components. The disk and spheroid luminosity functions are remarkably similar, although our rather small sample size precludes a detailed analysis. We do, however, find evidence in the bivariate luminosity function that spheroid-dominated galaxies occur only among the brightest spheroids, while disk-dominated galaxies span a much wider range of disk luminosities. Remarkably, the total stellar mass residing in disks and spheroids is approximately the same. For our sample (which includes galaxies brighter than M*+2, where M* is the magnitude corresponding to the characteristic luminosity), we find the ratio of stellar masses in disks and spheroids to be 1.3+/-0.2. This agrees with the earlier estimates of Schechter & Dressler but differs significantly from that of Fukugita, Hogan, & Peebles. Ongoing large photometric and redshift surveys will lead to a large increase in the number of galaxies to which our techniques can be applied and thus to an improvement in the current estimates.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2002-07
Deposit Date May 20, 2008
Publicly Available Date Aug 12, 2014
Journal Astrophysical Journal
Print ISSN 0004-637X
Electronic ISSN 1538-4357
Publisher American Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 574
Issue 1
Pages 104-113
Keywords Galaxies, Bulges, Luminosity function, Mass function, Spiral.
Public URL


Published Journal Article (525 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2002. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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