How the spectral energy distribution and galaxy morphology constrain each other, with application to morphological selection using galaxy colours
We introduce an empirical methodology to study how the spectral energy distribution (SED) and galaxy morphology constrain each other and implement this on 8000 galaxies from the HST CANDELS survey in the GOODS-South field. We show that the SED does constrain morphology and present a method that quantifies the strength of the link between these two quantities. Two galaxies with very similar SEDs are around three times more likely to also be morphologically similar, with SED constraining morphology most strongly for relatively massive red ellipticals. We apply our methodology to explore likely upper bounds on the efficacy of morphological selection using colour. We show that, under reasonable assumptions, colour selection is relatively ineffective at separating homogeneous morphologies. Even with the use of up to six colours for morphological selection, the average purity in the resultant morphological classes is only around 60 per cent. While the results can be improved by using the whole SED, the gains are not significant, with purity values remaining around 70 per cent or below.