The dark and luminous structure of early-type galaxies : observational dynamics and stellar populations
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Lenticular and elliptical galaxies, collectively referred to as "early-type galaxies" (ETGs), are commonly thought to represent the end-points of galaxy evolution. Lying in the red sequence of galaxies, these objects are defined by their mostly old stellar populations and by their "red and dead" appearance in optical observations. Much progress in understanding these objects has been made with integral-field spectroscopy in recent years, with results repeatedly pointing to a link between early-type galaxies and high-redshift spiral galaxies. However, the exact nature of this link remains unclear, with a wide variety of evolution scenarios likely required to fully explain the range of observed early-type galaxy properties. In my study, I analysed observations of twelve early-type galaxies taken with the Mitchell Integral-Field Spectrograph at McDonald Observatory, Texas. These galaxies have previously been found to contain detectable quantities of neutral hydrogen gas, with ten out of the twelve displaying large-scale hydrogen disks. I extracted line-of-sight kinematics of the stellar and ionised gas components of these galaxies, and I used various modelling approaches to constrain their stellar population parameters as well as their three-dimensional mass structure in terms of both dark and visible components. An important feature of this study is the wide field of view of the spectroscopic observations, which reach beyond two half-light radii for almost all of the sample; this remains rare for integral-field unit (IFU) studies of ETGs, and so sets this study apart from most earlier works. The gas-rich nature of the sample is likewise novel. I find all aspects of my analysis to yield a consistent view of these galaxies’ evolution, in which one or more gaseous interaction events served to shape them into their observed forms. I find these galaxies to contain low dark matter fractions on average within the inner half-light radius, and I also find mass modelling to favour near-isothermal total density profiles over much of the sample.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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