The stellar populations in the low-luminosity, early-type galaxy NGC59

Sansom, Anne E orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2782-7388, Thirlwall, J J orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0390-8199, Deakin, M A, Vaisanen, P, Kniazev, A Y and van Loon, J Th (2015) The stellar populations in the low-luminosity, early-type galaxy NGC59. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 450 (2). pp. 1338-1348. ISSN 0035-8711

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Low luminosity galaxies may be the building blocks of more luminous systems. Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) observations of the low luminosity, early-type galaxy NGC59 are obtained and analysed. These data are used to measure the stellar population parameters in the centre and off-centre regions of this galaxy, in order to uncover its likely star formation history. We find evidence of older stars, in addition to young stars in the emission line regions. The metallicity of the stellar population is constrained to be [Z/H] ~ -1.1 to -1.6, which is extremely low, even for this low luminosity galaxy, since it is not classed as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy. The measured [alpha/Fe] ratio is sub-solar, which indicates an extended star formation history in NGC59. If such objects formed the building blocks of more massive, early-type galaxies, then they must have been gaseous mergers, rather than dry mergers, in order to increase the metals to observed levels in luminous, early-type galaxies.

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