The Intrinsic Scatter of Galaxy Scaling Relations

Scatter comparison between Bayesian and classical analysis

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ABSTRACT: We present a compendium of disk galaxy scaling relations and a detailed characterization of their intrinsic scatter. Observed scaling relations are typically characterized by their slope, intercept, and scatter; however, these parameters are a mixture of observational errors and astrophysical processes. We introduce a novel Bayesian framework for computing the intrinsic scatter of scaling relations that accounts for nonlinear error propagation and covariant uncertainties. Bayesian intrinsic scatters are ~25percent more accurate than those obtained with a first-order classical method, which systematically underestimates the true intrinsic scatter. Structural galaxy scaling relations based on velocity (V23.5), size (R23.5), luminosity (L23.5), colour (g-z), central stellar surface density (Sigma1), stellar mass (M), dynamical mass (Mdyn), stellar angular momentum (j), and dynamical angular momentum (jdyn), are examined to demonstrate the power and importance of the Bayesian formalism. Our analysis is based on a diverse selection of over 1000 late-type galaxies from the Photometry and Rotation Curve Observations from Extragalactic Surveys compilation with deep optical photometry and extended rotation curves. We determine the tightest relation for each parameter by intrinsic orthogonal scatter, finding M-V23.5, R23.5-j, and L23.5-jdyn to be especially tight. The scatter of the R23.5-L23.5, V23.5-(g-z), and R23.5-jdyn relations is mostly intrinsic, making them ideal for galaxy formation and evolutionary studies. Our code to compute the Bayesian intrinsic scatter of any scaling relation is also presented. We quantify the correlated nature of many uncertainties in galaxy scaling relations and scrutinize the uncertain nature of disk inclination corrections and their effect on scatter estimates.

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