WXSC: First Data Release

The WISE Extended Source Catalogue (WXSC) 
I: The 100 Largest Galaxies

T.H. Jarrett, M.E. Cluver, M.J.I. Brown, D.A. Dale, C.W. Tsai, and F. Masci

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We present mid-infrared photometry and measured global properties of the 100 largest galaxies in the sky, including the well-studied Magellanic Clouds, Local Group galaxies M31 and M33, the Fornax and Virgo Galaxy Cluster giants, and many of the most spectacular Messier objects (e.g., M51 and M83). This is the first release of a larger catalog of extended sources as imaged in the mid-infrared, called the WISE Extended Source Catalogue (WXSC).

First Data Release Paper:
Jarrett et al. 2019

Corresponding author: Thomas Jarrett; tjarrett007@gmail.com

LMC

SMC

M31 - Andromeda

M33 - Triangulum

In this study, we measure their global attributes, including integrated flux, surface brightness and radial distribution. The largest of the large are the LMC, SMC and the Andromeda Galaxy, which are also the brightest mid-infrared galaxies in the sky. We interrogate the large galaxies using WISE colors, which serve as proxies for four general types of galaxies: bulge-dominated spheroidals, intermediate semi-quiescent disks, star-forming spirals, and AGN-dominated. The colors reveal a tight "sequence" that spans 5 magnitudes in (W2 - W3) color, ranging from early to late-types, and low to high star-forming activity; we fit the functional form given by:

Departures from this sequence may reveal nuclear, starburst, and merging events. Physical properties and luminosity attributes are computed, notably the diameter, aggregate stellar mass and the dust-obscured star formation activity. To effectively study and compare these galaxy characteristics, we introduce the "pinwheel" diagram which depicts physical properties with respect to the median value observed for WISE galaxies in the local universe. Utilized with the WXSC, this diagram will delineate between different kinds of galaxies, identifying those with similar star formation and structural properties. Finally, we present the mid-infrared photometry of the 25 brightest globular clusters in the sky, for which many are also the largest and brightest objects orbiting the Milky Way, including Omega Centauri, 47 Tucanae and a number of famed night-sky targets (e.g., M13).

Main results (see Jarrett et al 2019 for details):

  • We have constructed a whole-sky atlas of (chiefly) nearby, bright galaxies and globular clusters called the WISE Extended Source Catalogue (WXSC).  For each source, we have constructed new deep and wide mosaics from which to measure and characterize the target galaxy, as well as sources that are nearby in projected radial distance.  To date, we have measured over 70,000 sources.  For the first release, we choose the largest angular galaxies in the sky, starting from the Magellanic Clouds, to the major Local Group galaxies such as M31 and M33, to nearby galaxy groups and clusters (Virgo and Fornax). The WXSC will allow us to compare the most well-studied galaxies with large and more distant galaxies samples from WISE,  Spitzer, Herschel, Euclid, LSST, JWST, and the SKA pathfinders.

    To view the details and images of the 100 galaxies examined in WXSC, click here or go to the tab above.
  • We have measured the global and internal radial brightness properties of the 100 largest galaxies based on the WISE W1 (3.4 μm) 1 - σsky isophotal radius (about 23 mag arcsec-2), which typically reaches axi-symmetric-averaged depths of 25 mag arcsec-2 or approximately 28 mag arcsec-2 in the AB system.  We present the results for angular diameters, integrated flux from isophotes and “total” extractions from both asymptotic apertures and fitting to the radial profile to levels below the noise, surface brightness, and colors, (W1-W2) and (W2-W3).  The Magellanic Clouds, M31, and M33 are large enough that special methods were required to extract their light from the intervening foreground Galactic emission.
  • Because of the high quality measurements from the largest and brightest galaxies in the sky (WXSC), the  WISE color-color diagram reveals a tight sequence that represents galaxy morphology and star-formation history, including present-day activity. We use the rest-frame-corrected measurements from the largest and highest S/N galaxies to fit the functional form of this WISE color-color “sequence”, given by:
    Offsets from the sequence arise from the usual photometric scatter, and more meaningfully, from excess infrared emission associated with nuclear activity from AGN and starbursts.
  • The sample is sub-divided by the WISE colors, which serve as proxies for four general types of galaxies:  bulge-dominated spheroidals, intermediate semi-quiescent disk, SF spirals, and AGN-dominated systems.  Physical properties and attributes are computed based on their distance, notably the diameter, aggregate stellar mass and the dust-obscured star formation rate.   We use this classification scheme to study their global properties:  effective surface brightness, size, bulge-to-disk ratios, luminosity. We compare the half-light radii and surface brightnesses between  WISE W1 (3.4 μm) and 2MASS (2.2 μm) measurements, showing that W1 radii are much larger and surface brightnesses much fainter than those extracted from the less sensitive 2MASS imaging, notably for dwarf and low-surface brightness galaxies.
  • We find that the global properties are not remarkable compared to galaxies in the local universe, except in the sense that we can detect and discern the smallest and lowest-mass dwarf and satellite galaxies because of their close proximity. Nevertheless, the 100 largest galaxies include bright cluster (Virgo and Fornax) galaxies (which have enormous diameters, > 100 kpc, very high B/T ratios, and aggregate stellar masses; NGC1316 is the most massive), starbursts (such as NGC253 and M82 with SFRs ten times the rate of the Milky Way), and AGN (e.g. Circinus and NGC1068, with surface brightnesses that are so bright that they image-saturate in the mid-IR).
  • In terms of the star formation history, the 100 largest galaxies tend to have lower specific-SFRs compared to field galaxies, notably compared to a much larger sample of nearby galaxies belonging to the WXSC and compared to deeper redshift-selected samples, such as those from GAMA G12 (Jarrett+2017).
  • The low mass end is dominated by dwarf spheroids (e.g., NGC 0185), which have very low SFRs and hence, slowly building their bulge population.  Early-type disk galaxies, such as M81, are passively building with rates that fall below the sequence trend. Late-type spirals, such as M 83, are actively building with rates perfectly consistent with the SFH sequence observed in the GAMA G12 study.
  • To efficiently display the attributes that we are capable of estimating with WISE measurements, we introduce a “pinwheel” diagram that depicts the physical properties with respect to the median value observed for galaxies in the WXSC.  These six attributes are the physical diameter, surface brightness, colors, SFR and stellar mass. We show that with this diagram, it is possible to delineate between different kinds of galaxies, identifying those with similar SFHs, for example.  The Pinwheel Diagrams will be a featured product as part of the WXSC image, catalog and ancillary data archive.
  • Finally, we present the 25 brightest globular clusters in the sky, for which many are also the largest and brightest objects outside of the Milky Way.  Most notably Omega Centauri, 47 Tucanae and a number of famed night-sky targets (e.g., Hercules /M13).  GCs have mid-IR color properties that are similar to spheroidal galaxies, indeed Omega Centauri is essentially this type of object, indicative of their dominant evolved-stellar populations.

Highlighted Figures (see Jarrett et al 2019 for details):

The machine-readable tables from Jarrett et al. 2019 can be accessed here

ID Galaxy Mid-IR Image
1 LMC LMC + SMC Panorama Tarantula Nebula slice profile
2 SMC LMC + SMC Panorama Globular 47 Tuc
ID Galaxy Mid-IR Image Radial Profiles Pinwheel
3 M31 M31+M33 Panorama
4 M33 M31+M33 Panorama
ID Galaxy Mid-IR Image Cleaned Image Radial Profiles Pinwheel
5 NGC0253
6 NGC5128
7 NGC0055
8 MESSIER81
9 MESSIER101
10 NGC4945
11 IC0342
12 NGC1316
13 MESSIER49
14 MESSIER86
15 MAFFEI1
16 MESSIER110
17 MESSIER104
18 NGC2403
19 NGC0247
20 MESSIER106
21 MESSIER87
22 NGC3628
23 NGC0300
24 NGC4736
25 NGC6822
26 NGC1532
27 NGC5236
28 NGC0147
29 NGC6744
30 MESSIER63
31 NGC1553
32 NGC1399
33 NGC4236
34 NGC4565
35 Maffei2
36 NGC4631
37 MESSIER60
38 NGC4636
39 NGC2768
40 NGC3585
41 ESO270-G017
42 MESSIER51a
43 NGC3115
44 NGC3923
45 NGC4365
46 NGC1313
47 MESSIER84
48 NGC0185
49 NGC6946
50 NGC1395
51 IC0010
52 NGC4517
53 NGC1291
54 NGC2683
55 NGC4697
56 NGC3521
57 NGC3109
58 NGC0891
59 MESSIER85
60 NGC4244
61 NGC4762
62 NGC5084
63 NGC5907
64 NGC4395
65 NGC1407
66 NGC3627
67 NGC4438
68 NGC1365
69 NGC2903
70 NGC5846
71 NGC4725
72 NGC1549
73 WLM
74 NGC2841
75 Circinus
76 NGC3621
77 NGC5078
78 NGC1023
79 NGC7331
80 MESSIER64
81 MESSIER59
82 NGC4696
83 MESSIER82
84 ESO274-001
85 MESSIER77
86 NGC3077
87 MESSIER65
88 NGC7213
89 IC0356
90 NGC1560
91 NGC2663
92 NGC4216
93 NGC1055
94 NGC5170
95 MESSIER98
96 NGC2997
97 NGC4125
98 NGC7793
99 NGC5363
100 NGC4217
101 IC1613
102 MESSIER32
103 UGC05373
104 ESO245-007