What types of galaxies are in BOSS?

A critical question for the SDSS-III BOSS is what kinds of galaxies are they observing. In a recent paper by Masters et al., SDSS-III scientists used additional, higher resolution data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to answer this questions.

In SDSS images, BOSS galaxies, which are on average about 6 billion light years away, just looks like fuzzy red blobs. The goal of BOSS is to observe 1.5 million of them over 30% of the sky in order to map the large scale structure in great detail. For this study, they took a look at a tiny subset of 230 of them which have deeper HST images (which were taken as part of the COSMOS project – the largest area HST survey every yet done).

The study found that 75% of BOSS galaxies are massive ellipticals, but that a surprisingly high fraction (20%) of these are split into multiple components in the HST images. The remaining 25% of BOSS galaxies are massive spirals.

The image below shows an example of one of the spirals and one of the ellipticals shown in both the SDSS and HST image.

As well as the paper, you can look at a poster about this work which was presented both at the AAS in Boston in May, and also at the recent Galaxy Formation conference in Durham

Finally if you want to browse all the images yourself they are available at www.icg.port.ac.uk/~mastersk/BOSSmorphologies/

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