We use multiwavelength data from the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey to explore the cause of red optical colours in nearby (0.002 < z < 0.06) spiral galaxies. We show that the colours of red spiral galaxies are a direct consequence of some environment-related mechanism(s) that has removed dust and gas, leading to a lower star formation rate. We conclude that this process acts on long time-scales (several Gyr) due to a lack of morphological transformation associated with the transition in optical colour. The specific star formation rate (sSFR) and dust-to-stellar mass ratio of red spiral galaxies is found to be statistically lower than blue spiral galaxies. On the other hand, red spirals are on average 0.9 dex more massive, and reside in environments 2.6 times denser than their blue counterparts. We find no evidence of excessive nuclear activity, or higher inclination angles to support these as the major causes for the red optical colours seen in ≳47 per cent of all spirals in our sample. Furthermore, for a small subsample of our spiral galaxies that are detected in H I, we find that the SFR of gas-rich red spiral galaxies is lower by ∼1 dex than their blue counterparts.
Bibliographical noteThis article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 491, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 398–408, https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stz2993. Copyright 2019 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
- Galaxies: evolution
- Galaxies: fundamental parameters
- Galaxies: star formation
- Galaxies: stellar content
- Galaxies: structure