fundamental plane

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A correlation between the size of elliptical galaxies, their average surface brightness, and the velocity dispersion of the stars within them. When these three properties are plotted on a graph with three axes, they describe a narrow plane, which is the fundamental plane. Any theory of the origin of elliptical galaxies must explain why these three quantities are so closely related. Astronomers use the fundamental-plane relationship to estimate the distances of ellipticals from a combination of their size and surface brightness.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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