The influence of red spiral galaxies on the shape of the local k-band luminosity function

Nicolas J. Bonne, Michael J I Brown, Heath Jones, Kevin A. Pimbblet

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We have determined K-band luminosity functions for 13,325 local universe galaxies as a function of morphology and color (for K tot ≤ 10.75). Our sample is drawn from the Two Micron All Sky Survey Extended Source Catalog, with all sample galaxies having measured morphologies and distances (including 4219 archival redshift-independent distances). The luminosity function for our total sample is in good agreement with previous works, but is relatively smooth at faint magnitudes (due to bulk flow distance corrections). We investigated the differences due to morphological and color selection using 5417 sample galaxies with NASA Sloan Atlas optical colors and find that red spirals comprise 20%-50% of all spirals with -25 ≤ MK < -20. Fainter than MK = -24, red spirals are as common as early types, explaining the different faint end slopes (α = -0.87 and -1.00 for red and early-types, respectively). While we find red spirals comprise more than 50% of all MK < -25 spiral galaxies, they do not dominate the bright end of the overall red galaxy luminosity function, which is dominated by early-type galaxies. The brightest red spirals have ongoing star formation and those without are frequently misclassified as early-types. The faintest ones have an appearance and Sérsic indices consistent with faded disks, rather than true bulge-dominated galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number160
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2015


  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: luminosity function, mass function
  • galaxies: star formation


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