Journal Article

Galaxy populations in the Antlia cluster – II. Compact elliptical galaxy candidates*

Analía V. Smith Castelli, Favio R. Faifer, Tom Richtler and Lilia P. Bassino

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 391, issue 2, pages 685-699
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13866.x
Galaxy populations in the Antlia cluster – II. Compact elliptical galaxy candidates*

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Continuing our study of galaxy populations in the Antlia cluster, we present a photometric analysis of four galaxies classified as compact elliptical (cE) galaxies in the 1990 Antlia Group catalogue of Ferguson and Sandage. Until now, there have been only six known members of this rare type of galaxy. Using data from various photometric systems (Washington C, Kron–Cousins R, Bessel V and I, Hubble Space TelesecopeF814W and F435W), we measured the brightness and colour profiles, as well as the structural parameters. By comparing these with those of other galaxies in the Antlia cluster, as well as with confirmed cE galaxies from the literature, we found that two of the cE candidates, although spectroscopically confirmed Antlia members, are not cE galaxies. However, one of these objects presents strong ellipticity and position angle variations that resemble those already reported for M32, leading us to speculate about this type of object being a progenitor of a cE galaxy. The other two cE candidates, for which radial velocities are not available, match some features typical of cE galaxies, such as being close in projection to a larger galaxy, displaying flat colour profiles, and having a high degree of compactness. Only one of the remaining cE candidates shows a high central surface brightness, two components in its brightness profile and distinct changes in ellipticity and position angle where the outer component begins to dominate. It seems to follow the same trend as other confirmed cE galaxies in a luminosity versus mean effective surface brightness diagram. Moreover, it shows a distorted inner structure with similar characteristics to those found by simulations of interacting galaxies. Also, an extremely faint structure, which seems to link this object with one of the Antlia dominant galaxies, has been detected in images from the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory MOSAIC, the Very Large Telescope FORS1 and the Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys. The cE nature of this galaxy and the possible interaction with its bright companion still have to be confirmed using spectroscopy.

Keywords: galaxies: clusters: general; galaxies: clusters: individual: Antlia; galaxies: dwarf; galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD; galaxies: peculiar; galaxies: photometry

Journal Article.  10009 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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