Color gradients and half-mass radii of galaxies out to z=2 in the CANDELS/3D-HST fields: further evidence for important differences in the evolution of mass-weighted and light-weighted sizes

Tim B. Miller, Pieter van Dokkum, Lamiya Mowla

Submitted on 12 July 2022


Recent studies have indicated that the ratio between half-mass and half-light radii, rmass/rlight, varies significantly as a function of stellar mass and redshift, complicating the interpretation of the ubiquitous rlightM relation. To investigate, in this study we construct the light and color profiles of 3000 galaxies at $1 10.25$ using $\texttt{imcascade}$, a Bayesian implementation of the Multi-Gaussian expansion (MGE) technique. $\texttt{imcascade}$ flexibly represents galaxy profiles using a series of Gaussians, free of any a-priori parameterization. We find that both star-forming and quiescent galaxies have on average negative color gradients. For star forming galaxies, we find steeper gradients that evolve with redshift and correlate with dust content. Using the color gradients as a proxy for gradients in the $M/L$ ratio we measure half mass radii for our sample of galaxies. There is significant scatter in individual $r_{\rm mass} / r_{\rm light}$ ratios, which is correlated with variation in the color gradients. We find that the median $r_{\rm mass} / r_{\rm light}$ ratio evolves from 0.75 at $z=2$ to 0.5 at $z=1$, consistent with previous results. We characterize the $r_{\rm mass}- M_*$ relation and we find that it has a shallower slope and shows less redshift evolution than the $r_{\rm light} - M_*$ relation. This applies both to star-forming and quiescent galaxies. We discuss some of the implications of using $r_{\rm mass}$ instead of $r_{\rm light}$, including an investigation of the size-inclination bias and a comparison to numerical simulations.


Comment: Submitted to ApJ: Please find catalog of size and color gradient measurements here:

Subject: Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies