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- Spatially resolved spectroscopy of early-type galaxies over a range in mass
- Sanchez-Blazquez, Patricia; Forbes, Duncan A.; Strader, Jay; Brodie, Jean P.; Proctor, Robert N.
- Long-slit spectra have been obtained with the Keck telescope for a sample of 11 early-type galaxies covering a wide range in luminosity and hence mass. Rotation velocity and velocity dispersions, together with 19 Lick line-strength gradients have been measured, to, on average, two effective radii. Stellar population models taking into account the effect of the non-solar chemical composition have been used to derive ages, metallicities and α/Fe abundances along the radius. We find that line-strength gradients are due mainly to variations of the total metallicity with the radius. One galaxy out of 11 shows very strong age gradients, with a young central component, while the age gradient for the rest of the sample is very shallow or consistent with zero. We also find small variations in the [α/Fe] ratio with radius. Contrary to what is expected in simple collapse models, galaxies show both positive and negative [α/Fe] profiles. This rules out a solely inside-out, or outside-in, formation mechanism for all early-type galaxies. We do not find a correlation between the metallicity and the [α/Fe] gradients, and the local metallicity is not correlated with the local velocity dispersion for all the galaxies of our sample, which rules out scenarios where the delay in the onset of the galactic winds is the only mechanism producing the metallicity gradients. We found that metallicity gradients are correlated with the shape of the isophotes and the central mean age and metallicity of the galaxies, for galaxies younger than ~10 Gyr. We show that the correlation between the gradients and the central values is not due to the correlation of the errors and indicates that the same process that shaped the gradient, also modified the structural parameters of the galaxies and triggered star formation in their centres. This strongly supports the merger scenario for the formation of these systems, where the degree of dissipation during those mergers increases as the mass of the progenitor galaxies decreases. Finally, we also find a dichotomy in the plane grad [α/Fe]-[α/Fe] between galaxies with velocity dispersions below and above ~200 km s-1, which requires confirmation with larger samples.
- Publication type
- Journal article
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. Faculty of Information and Communication Technologies. Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing
- Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 377, no. 2 (2007), p. 759-786
- Publication year
- Abundances; Galaxies; Elliptical and lenticular galaxies; cD; Galaxy evolution; Galaxy formation; Galaxy kinematics and dynamics
- Blackwell Publishing
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2007 Royal Astronomical Society. Author's final draft reproduced here on 08 January 2009 in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
- Full text
- Peer reviewed