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Trancho G.,Giant Magellan Telescope Organization | Miller B.W.,Gemini Observatory | Schweizer F.,Carnegie Observatories | Burdett D.P.,University of Adelaide | Palamara D.,Monash University
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2014

We present the results of combining Hubble Space Telescope optical photometry with ground-based Ks -band photometry from the Gemini imagers NIRI and FLAMINGOS-I to study the globular cluster (GC) populations in four early-type galaxies that are candidate remnants of recent mergers (NGC 1700, NGC 2865, NGC 4382, and NGC 7727). These galaxies were chosen based on their blue colors and fine structure, such as shells and ripples that are indicative of past interactions. We fit the combined VIKs GC data with simple toy models of mixed cluster populations that contain three subpopulations of different age and metallicity. The fits, done via chi-squared mapping of the parameter space, yield clear evidence for the presence of intermediate-age clusters in each galaxy. We find that the ages of ∼1-2 Gyr for these GC subpopulations are consistent with the previously estimated merger ages for the host galaxies. © 2014. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Source

Neichel B.,Gemini Observatory | D'Orgeville C.,Australian National University | Callingham J.,University of Sydney | Rigaut F.,Australian National University | And 2 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2013

Detailed knowledge of the mesospheric sodium layer characteristics is crucial to estimate and optimize the performance of laser guide star (LGS) assisted adaptive optics (AO) systems. In this paper, we present an analysis of two sets of data on the mesospheric sodium layer. The first set comes from a laser experiment that was carried out at Cerro Tololo to monitor the abundance and altitude of the mesospheric sodium in 2001, during six runs covering a period of one year. These data are used to derive the mesospheric sodium column density, the sodium layer thickness and the temporal behaviour of the sodium layer mean altitude. The second set of data was gathered during the first year of the Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (MCAO) System (GeMS) commissioning and operations. GeMS uses five LGSs to measure and compensate for atmospheric distortions. Analysis of the LGS wavefront sensor (WFS) data provides information about the sodium photon return and the spot elongation seen by the WFS. All these parameters show large variations on a yearly, nightly and hourly basis, affecting the LGS brightness, shape and mean altitude. The sodium photon return varies by a factor of 3-4 over a year, and can change by a factor of 2 over a night. In addition, the comparison of the photon returns obtained in 2001 with those measured a decade later using GeMS shows a significant difference in laser format efficiencies. We find that the temporal power spectrum of the sodium mean altitude follows a linear trend, in good agreement with the results reported by Pfrommer & Hickson. © 2013 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Source

Huang S.,Nanjing University | Huang S.,Carnegie Institution for Science | Ho L.C.,Carnegie Institution for Science | Peng C.Y.,Giant Magellan Telescope Organization | And 2 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2013

Motivated by recent developments in our understanding of the formation and evolution of massive galaxies, we explore the detailed photometric structure of a representative sample of 94 bright, nearby elliptical galaxies, using high-quality optical images from the Carnegie-Irvine Galaxy Survey. The sample spans a range of environments and stellar masses, from M * = 1010.2 to 1012.0 M . We exploit the unique capabilities of two-dimensional image decomposition to explore the possibility that local elliptical galaxies may contain photometrically distinct substructure that can shed light on their evolutionary history. Compared with the traditional one-dimensional approach, these two-dimensional models are capable of consistently recovering the surface brightness distribution and the systematic radial variation of geometric information at the same time. Contrary to conventional perception, we find that the global light distribution of the majority (≳75%) of elliptical galaxies is not well described by a single Sérsic function. Instead, we propose that local elliptical galaxies generically contain three subcomponents: a compact (Re ∼ 1 kpc) inner component with luminosity fraction f 0.1-0.15; an intermediate-scale (Re 2.5 kpc) middle component with f 0.2-0.25; and a dominant (f = 0.6), extended (Re 10 kpc) outer envelope. All subcomponents have average Sérsic indices n 1-2, significantly lower than the values typically obtained from single-component fits. The individual subcomponents follow well-defined photometric scaling relations and the stellar mass-size relation. We discuss the physical nature of the substructures and their implications for the formation of massive elliptical galaxies. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.. Source

Huang S.,Nanjing University | Huang S.,Carnegie Institution for Science | Ho L.C.,Carnegie Institution for Science | Peng C.Y.,Giant Magellan Telescope Organization | And 2 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal Letters | Year: 2013

Massive early-type galaxies (ETGs) have undergone dramatic structural evolution over the last 10 Gyr. A companion paper shows that nearby elliptical galaxies with M * ≥ 1.3 × 1011 M generically contain three photometric subcomponents: a compact inner component with effective radius Re ≲ 1 kpc, an intermediate-scale middle component with Re ≈ 2.5 kpc, and an extended outer envelope with Re ≈ 10 kpc. Here we attempt to relate these substructures with the properties of ETGs observed at higher redshifts. We find that a hypothetical structure formed from combining the inner and middle components of local ellipticals follows a strikingly tight stellar mass-size relation, one that resembles the distribution of ETGs at z ≈ 1. Outside of the central kpc, the median stellar mass surface density profiles of this composite structure agree closest with those of massive galaxies that have similar cumulative number density at 1.5 < z < 2.0 within the uncertainty. We propose that the central substructures in nearby ellipticals are the evolutionary descendants of the "red nuggets" formed under highly dissipative ("wet") conditions at high redshifts, as envisioned in the initial stages of the two-phase formation scenario recently advocated for massive galaxies. Subsequent accretion, plausibly through dissipationless ("dry") minor mergers, builds the outer regions of the galaxy identified as the outer envelope in our decomposition. The large scatter exhibited by this component on the stellar mass-size plane testifies to the stochastic nature of the accretion events. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.. Source

Gu M.,Nanjing University | Gu M.,Carnegie Institution for Science | Ho L.C.,Carnegie Institution for Science | Peng C.Y.,Giant Magellan Telescope Organization | And 2 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2013

Minor mergers are thought to be important for the buildup and structural evolution of massive elliptical galaxies. In this work, we report the discovery of a system of four shell features in NGC 4889, one of the brightest members of the Coma cluster, using optical images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The shells are well aligned with the major axis of the host and are likely to have been formed by the accretion of a small satellite galaxy. We have performed a detailed two-dimensional photometric decomposition of NGC 4889 and of the many overlapping nearby galaxies in its vicinity. This comprehensive model allows us not only to firmly detect the low-surface brightness shells, but, crucially, also to accurately measure their luminosities and colors. The shells are bluer than the underlying stars at the same radius in the main galaxy. We make use of the colors of the shells and the color-magnitude relation of the Coma cluster to infer the luminosity (or mass) of the progenitor galaxy. The shells in NGC 4889 appear to have been produced by the minor merger of a moderate-luminosity (MI ≈ -18.7 mag) disk (S0 or spiral) galaxy with a luminosity (mass) ratio of ∼90:1 with respect to the primary galaxy. The novel methodology presented in this work can be exploited to decode the fossil record imprinted in the photometric substructure of other nearby early-type galaxies. © 2013. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Source

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