Author(s): , ,
Institution(s): 1. National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 2. Valongo Observatory, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
Stellar bars are present in ~2/3 of nearby spirals and play a critical role in the evolution of their hosts. With the advent of large high-resolution imaging surveys, bar studies are being extended to distant galaxies. However, photometric studies of the distant universe are invariably subject to the effects of band-shifting, the progressive shift of the photometric band to bluer rest-frame wavelengths. In order to reliably characterize the intrinsic evolution of bars with redshift, safe from band-shifting effects, it is necessary to establish a local anchor of how bar properties vary with wavelength. We present a detailed multi-band study of bar properties from UV through mid-infrared for a sample of 16 large nearby barred galaxies. Based on ellipticity and position angle profiles resulting from fitting elliptical isophotes to the 2D light distribution of each galaxy, we find that both the bar length and the bar ellipticity increase at bluer wavebands. We attribute the increase in bar length to the frequent presence of prominent star forming knots at the end of bars: these regions are significantly brighter in bluer bands, resulting in the “artificial” lengthening of the bar. The increase in bar ellipticity, on the other hand, is driven by the bulge size: the bulge, composed primarily of old/red stars, is less prominent at bluer bands, allowing for thinner ellipses to be fit within the bar region. The resulting effect is that bars appear longer and thinner at bluer bands. Although we find that ~50% of the bars disappear in the UV, the results on bar ellipticity and length extend to those cases in which the bar is still visible in the UV. These results imply that careful correction for band-shifting effects is necessary for high-z studies to reliably gauge any intrinsic evolution of the bar properties with redshift. In the light of the ample space-based optical data now available, this study may be used as a reference to implement band-shifting corrections to high-z studies of bar properties beyond z=0.8, when optical filters start tracing rest-frame UV bands. This opens the door for detailed morphological studies of bars to reliably gauge any intrinsic redshift evolution of bar properties out to the distant universe.