Radial Star Formation Histories in 32 Nearby Galaxies

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The spatially resolved star formation histories are studied for 32 normal star-forming galaxies drawn from the Spitzer Extended Disk Galaxy Exploration Science survey. At surface brightness sensitivities fainter than 28 mag arcsec-2, the new optical photometry is deep enough to complement archival ultraviolet and infrared imaging and to explore the properties of the emission well beyond the traditional optical extents of these nearby galaxies. Fits to the spectral energy distributions using a delayed star formation history model indicate a subtle but interesting average radial trend for the spiral galaxies: the inner stellar systems decrease in age with increasing radius, consistent with inside-out disk formation, but the trend reverses in the outermost regions with the stellar age nearly as old as the innermost stars. These results suggest an old stellar outer disk population formed through radial migration and/or the cumulative history of minor mergers and accretions of satellite dwarf galaxies. The subset of S0 galaxies studied here show the opposite trend compared to what is inferred for spirals: characteristic stellar ages that are increasingly older with radius for the inner portions of the galaxies, and increasingly younger stellar ages for the outer portions. This result suggests that either S0 galaxies are not well modeled by a delayed-τ model, and/or that S0 galaxies have a more complicated formation history than spiral galaxies.