Journal Article

The link between the masses and central stellar populations of S0 galaxies

A. G. Bedregal, A. Aragón-Salamanca, M. R. Merrifield and N. Cardiel

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 387, issue 2, pages 660-676
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13163.x
The link between the masses and central stellar populations of S0 galaxies

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Using high signal-to-noise ratio VLT/FORS2 long-slit spectroscopy, we have studied the properties of the central stellar populations and dynamics of a sample of S0 galaxies in the Fornax cluster. The central absorption-line indices in these galaxies correlate well with the central velocity dispersions (σ0) in accordance with what previous studies found for elliptical galaxies. However, contrary to what it is usually assumed for cluster ellipticals, the observed correlations seem to be driven by systematic age and α-element abundance variations, and not changes in overall metallicity. We also found that the observed scatter in the index–σ0 relations can be partially explained by the rotationally supported nature of these systems. Indeed, even tighter correlations exist between the line indices and the maximum circular velocity of the galaxies. This study suggests that the dynamical mass is the physical property driving these correlations, and for S0 galaxies such masses have to be estimated assuming a large degree of rotational support. The observed trends imply that the most massive S0s have the shortest star formation time-scales and the oldest stellar populations.

Keywords: galaxies: abundances; galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: individual: NGC 1316; galaxies: kinematics and dynamics; galaxies: stellar content

Journal Article.  9315 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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