Journal Article

Radial kinematics of brightest cluster galaxies

S. I. Loubser, A. E. Sansom, P. Sánchez-Blázquez, I. K. Soechting and G. E. Bromage

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 391, issue 3, pages 1009-1028
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13813.x
Radial kinematics of brightest cluster galaxies

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This is the first of a series of papers devoted to the investigation of a large sample of brightest cluster galaxies (BCGs), their kinematic and stellar population properties, and the relationships between those and the properties of the cluster. We have obtained high signal-to-noise ratio, long-slit spectra of these galaxies with Gemini and William Herschel Telescope with the primary purpose of investigating their stellar population properties. This paper describes the selection methods and criteria used to compile a new sample of galaxies, concentrating on BCGs previously classified as containing a halo (cD galaxies), together with the observations and data reduction. Here, we present the full sample of galaxies, and the measurement and interpretation of the radial velocity and velocity dispersion profiles of 41 BCGs. We find clear rotation curves for a number of these giant galaxies. In particular, we find rapid rotation (>100 km s−1) for two BCGs, NGC 6034 and 7768, indicating that it is unlikely that they formed through dissipationless mergers. Velocity substructure in the form of kinematically decoupled cores is detected in 12 galaxies, and we find five galaxies with velocity dispersion increasing with radius. The amount of rotation, the velocity substructure and the position of BCGs on the anisotropy–luminosity diagram are very similar to those of ‘ordinary’ giant ellipticals in high-density environments.

Keywords: galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD; galaxies: kinematics and dynamics

Journal Article.  12378 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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