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Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. Ser. 130, 173-182

The $\vec{t}$ system; a new system for estimating the total magnitudes of galaxies

C. Ke-shih Young1 - N. Metcalfe2 - Jin Zhu1 - Hong Wu1 - Jian-sheng Chen1

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1 - Beijing Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100080, China
2 - Department of Physics, University of Durham, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK

Received September 26; accepted November 12, 1997


We present a new, but simple, procedure for estimating the total magnitudes of galaxies. This procedure involves the out-focusing of digital galaxy images numerically, the fitting of the resulting surface-brightness profiles with a single generalised profile model and the extrapolation of the fitted profiles to infinite radial distances. This new system, which we denote t, differs fundamentally from the T system (of the Reference Catalog of Bright Galaxies series) in that: (1) it enables a galaxy's luminosity profile to be extrapolated without the need for any prior morphological classification, and (2) it is applicable to images of widely different spatial resolutions (including unresolved ones) because it takes into account systematic effects due to differential image resolution. It also differs fundamentally from the Kron system in that: (1) it can be derived directly from surface photometry without the need to go back to the plate scans or CCD frames (unless the surface photometry is of high resolution and/or the galaxies being measured are very bright), and (2) it can cope with merged images (provided they are separable by image-segmentation software). Through worked examples, we demonstrate the stability of t-system total magnitudes with respect to morphological type, the seeing conditions at the time of observation, degree of smoothing and limiting isophote. We also compare and contrast the new system with both the T system and the Kron system, and investigate the advantages and limitations of each of the three systems.

Key words: methods: data analysis -- galaxies: fundamental parameters -- galaxies: photometry

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