Kinematics and stellar populations of 17 dwarf early-type galaxies

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Thomas, D. ; Bender, R. ; Hopp, U. ; Maraston, C. ; Greggio, L. (2002)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1023/A:1024062123750
  • Subject: Astrophysics
    arxiv: Astrophysics::Galaxy Astrophysics | Astrophysics::Cosmology and Extragalactic Astrophysics | Astrophysics::Earth and Planetary Astrophysics | Astrophysics::Solar and Stellar Astrophysics

We present kinematics and stellar population properties of 17 dwarf early-type galaxies in the luminosity range -14> M_B> -19. Our sample fills the gap between the intensively studied giant elliptical and Local Group dwarf spheroidal galaxies. The dwarf ellipticals of the present sample have constant velocity dispersion profiles within their effective radii and do not show significant rotation, hence are clearly anisotropic. The dwarf lenticulars, instead, rotate faster and are, at least partially, supported by rotation. From optical Lick absorption indices, we derive metallicities and element abundances. Combining our sample with literature data of the Local Group dwarf spheroidals and giant ellipticals, we find a surprisingly tight linear correlation between metallicity and luminosity over a wide range: -8> M_B> -22. The alpha/Fe ratios of our dwarf ellipticals are significantly lower than the ones of giant elliptical galaxies, which is in agreement with spectroscopy of individual stars in Local Group dwarf spheroidals. Our results suggest the existence of a clear kinematic and stellar population dichotomy between dwarf and giant elliptical galaxies. This result is important for theories of galaxy formation, because it implies that present-day dwarf ellipticals are not the fossiled building blocks of giant ellipticals.
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