Bimodality in low-luminosity E and S0 galaxies

Sansom, A. E. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2782-7388 and Northeast, M. S. (2008) Bimodality in low-luminosity E and S0 galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 387 (1). pp. 331-343. ISSN 0035-8711

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Stellar population characteristics are presented for a sample of low-luminosity early-type galaxies (LLEs) in order to compare them with their more luminous counterparts. Long-slit spectra of a sample of 10 LLEs were taken with the ESO New Technology Telescope, selected for their low luminosities. Line strengths were measured on the Lick standard system. Lick indices for these LLEs were correlated with velocity dispersion (σ), alongside published data for a variety of Hubble types. The LLEs were found to fall below an extrapolation of the correlation for luminous ellipticals and were consistent with the locations of spiral bulges in plots of line strengths versus σ. Luminosity weighted average ages, metallicities and abundance ratios were estimated from χ2 fitting of 19 Lick indices to predictions from simple stellar population models. The LLEs appear younger than luminous ellipticals and of comparable ages to spiral bulges. These LLEs show a bimodal metallicity distribution, consisting of a low-metallicity group (possibly misclassified dwarf spheroidal galaxies) and a high-metallicity group (similar to spiral bulges). Finally, they have low α-element to iron peak abundance ratios indicative of slow, extended star formation.

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