Stellar Disk Truncations: Where Do We Stand?

  • M. Pohlen
  • J. E. Beckman
  • S. Hüttemeister
  • J. H. Knapen
  • P. Erwin
  • R.-J. Dettmar
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 319)


In the light of several recent developments we revisit the phenomenon of galactic stellar disk truncations. Even 25 years since the first paper on outer breaks in the radial light profiles of spiral galaxies, their origin is still unclear. The two most promising explanations are that these ‘outer edges’ either trace the maximum angular momentum during the galaxy formation epoch, or are associated with global star formation thresholds. Depending on their true physical nature, these outer edges may represent an improved size characteristic (e.g., as compared to D 25) and might contain fossil evidence imprinted by the galaxy formation and evolutionary history. We will address several observational aspects of disk truncations: their existence, not only in normal HSB galaxies, but also in LSB and even dwarf galaxies; their detailed shape, not sharp cut-offs as thought before, but in fact demarcating the start of a region with a steeper exponential distribution of starlight; their possible association with bars; as well as problems related to the line-of-sight integration for edge-on galaxies (the main targets for truncation searches so far). Taken together, these observations currently favour the star-formation threshold model, but more work is necessary to implement the truncations as adequate parameters characterising galactic disks.


Spiral Galaxy Galactic Disk Disk Galaxy Stellar Disk Outer Disk 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Pohlen
    • 1
  • J. E. Beckman
    • 1
  • S. Hüttemeister
    • 2
  • J. H. Knapen
    • 3
  • P. Erwin
    • 1
  • R.-J. Dettmar
    • 2
  1. 1.Instituto de Astrofísica de CanariasSpain
  2. 2.Astronomisches InstitutRuhr-Universitat BochumGermany
  3. 3.Centre for Astrophysics ResearchUniversity of HertfordshireUK

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