Galaxy Zoo: the environmental dependence of bars and bulges in disc galaxies


We present an analysis of the environmental dependence of bars and bulges in disc galaxies, using a volume-limited catalogue of 15 810 galaxies at z < 0.06 from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey with visual morphologies from the Galaxy Zoo 2 project. We find that the likelihood of having a bar, or bulge, in disc galaxies increases when the galaxies have redder (optical) colours and larger stellar masses, and observe a transition in the bar and bulge likelihoods at M*= 2 x 10(10) M?, such that massive disc galaxies are more likely to host bars and bulges. In addition, while some barred and most bulge-dominated galaxies are on the red sequence of the colourmagnitude diagram, we see a wider variety of colours for galaxies that host bars. We use galaxy clustering methods to demonstrate statistically significant environmental correlations of barred, and bulge-dominated, galaxies, from projected separations of 150 kpc h-1 to 3 Mpc h-1. These environmental correlations appear to be independent of each other: i.e. bulge-dominated disc galaxies exhibit a significant barenvironment correlation, and barred disc galaxies show a bulgeenvironment correlation. As a result of sparse sampling tests our sample is nearly 20 times larger than those used previously we argue that previous studies that did not detect a barenvironment correlation were likely inhibited by small number statistics. We demonstrate that approximately half of the barenvironment correlation can be explained by the fact that more massive dark matter haloes host redder disc galaxies, which are then more likely to have bars; this fraction is estimated to be 50 +/- 10 per cent from a mock catalogue analysis and 60 +/- 5 per cent from the data. Likewise, we show that the environmental dependence of stellar mass can only explain a smaller fraction (25 +/- 10 per cent) of the barenvironment correlation. Therefore, a significant fraction of our observed environmental dependence of barred galaxies is not due to colour or stellar mass dependences, and hence must be due to another galaxy property, such as gas content, or to environmental influences. Finally, by analysing the projected clustering of barred and unbarred disc galaxies with halo occupation models, we argue that barred galaxies are in slightly higher mass haloes than unbarred ones, and some of them (approximately 25 per cent) are satellite galaxies in groups. We discuss the implications of our results on the effects of minor mergers and interactions on bar formation in disc galaxies.

methods: statistical, galaxies: evolution, galaxies: haloes, galaxies: spiral, galaxies: structure, large-scale structure of the Universe, DIGITAL-SKY-SURVEY, MORPHOLOGY-DENSITY RELATION, DARK-MATTER SUBSTRUCTURE, COLOR-MAGNITUDE DIAGRAM, BARRED SPIRAL GALAXIES, STAR-FORMATION HISTORY, LAMBDA-CDM COSMOLOGY, SECULAR EVOLUTION, STELLAR MASS, HUBBLE SEQUENCE, Astronomy & Astrophysics
Skibba, R. et al. (2012): Galaxy Zoo: the environmental dependence of bars and bulges in disc galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 423(2). DOI: