A Spitzer-IRS view of early-type galaxies with cuspy/core nuclei and with fast/slow rotation [CL]


The recent literature suggests that an evolutionary dichotomy exists for early-type galaxies (Es and S0s, ETGs) whereby their central photometric structure (cuspy versus core central luminosity profiles), and figure of rotation (fast (FR) vs. slow (SR) rotators), are determined by whether they formed by “wet” or “dry” mergers. We consider whether the mid infrared (MIR) properties of ETGs, with their sensitivity to accretion processes in particular in the last few Gyr (on average z < 0.2), can put further constraints on this picture. We investigate a sample of 49 ETGs for which nuclear MIR properties and detailed photometrical and kinematical classifications are available from the recent literature. In the stellar light cuspy/core ETGs show a dichotomy that is mainly driven by their luminosity. However in the MIR, the brightest core ETGs show evidence that accretions have triggered both AGN and star formation activity in the recent past, challenging a “dry” merger scenario. In contrast, we do find, in the Virgo and Fornax clusters, that cuspy ETGs, fainter than M$_{K_s}=-24$, are predominantly passively evolving in the same epoch, while, in low density environments, they tend to be more active. A significant and statistically similar fraction of both FR (38$^{+18}_{-11}$\%) and SR (50$^{+34}_{-21}$\%) shows PAH features in their MIR spectra. Ionized and molecular gas are also frequently detected. Recent star formation episodes are then a common phenomenon in both kinematical classes, even in those dominated by AGN activity, suggesting a similar evolutionary path in the last few Gyr. MIR spectra suggest that the photometric segregation between cuspy and core nuclei and the dynamical segregation between FR and SR must have originated before z~0.2.

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R. Rampazzo, O. Vega, A. Bressan, et. al.
Tue, 18 Mar 14