The UV-optical galaxy color-magnitude diagram. I. Basic properties

Ted K. Wyder, D. Christopher Martin, David Schiminovich, Mark Seibert, Tamás Budavári, Marie A. Treyer, Tom A. Barlow, Karl Forster, Peter G. Friedman, Patrick Morrissey, Susan G. Neff, Todd Small, Luciana Bianchi, José Donas, Timothy M. Heckman, Young Wook Lee, Barry F. Madore, Bruno Milliard, R. Michael Rich, Alex S. SzalayBarry Y. Welsh, Sukyoung K. Yi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

322 Citations (Scopus)


We have analyzed the bivariate distribution of galaxies as a function of ultraviolet-optical colors and absolute magnitudes in the local universe. The sample consists of galaxies with redshifts and optical photometry from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) main galaxy sample matched with detections in the near-ultraviolet (NUV) and far-ultraviolet (FUV) bands in the Medium Imaging Survey being carried out by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite. In the (NUV - r)0.1 versus Mr,0.1 galaxy color-magnitude diagram, the galaxies separate into two well-defined blue and red sequences. The (NUV - r)0.1 color distribution at each Mr,0.1 is not well fit by the sum of two Gaussians due to an excess of galaxies in between the two sequences. The peaks of both sequences become redder with increasing luminosity, with a distinct blue peak visible up to Mr,0.1-23. The r0.1-band luminosity functions vary systematically with color, with the faint-end slope and characteristic luminosity gradually increasing with color. After correcting for attenuation due to dust, we find that approximately one-quarter of the color variation along the blue sequence is due to dust, with the remainder due to star formation history and metallicity. Finally, we present the distribution of galaxies as a function of specific star formation rate and stellar mass. The specific star formation rates imply that galaxies along the blue sequence progress from low-mass galaxies with star formation rates that increase somewhat with time to more massive galaxies with a more or less constant star formation rate. Above a stellar mass of ∼1010.5 M, galaxies with low ratios of current to past averaged star formation rate begin to dominate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-314
Number of pages22
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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