Methods to recover the fossil record of galaxy evolution encoded in their optical spectra have been instrumental in processing the avalanche of data from mega-surveys along the last decade, effectively transforming observed spectra onto a long and rich list of physical properties: from stellar masses and mean ages to full star formation histories. This promoted progress in our understanding of galaxies as a whole. Yet, the lack of spatial resolution introduces undesirable aperture effects, and hampers advances on the internal physics of galaxies. This is now changing with 3D surveys. The mapping of stellar populations in data-cubes allows us to figure what comes from where, unscrambling information previously available only in integrated form. This contribution uses our starlight-based analysis of 300 CALIFA galaxies to illustrate the power of spectral synthesis applied to data-cubes. The selected results highlighted here include: (a) The evolution of the mass-metallicity and mass-density-metallicity relations, as traced by the mean stellar metallicity. (b) A comparison of star formation rates obtained from Hα to those derived from full spectral fits. (c) The relation between star formation rate and dust optical depth within galaxies, which turns out to mimic the Schmidt-Kennicutt law. (d) PCA tomography experiments.
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