EDP Sciences
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Volume 428, Number 3, December IV 2004
Page(s) 877 - 890
Section Extragalactic astronomy
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20040359

A&A 428, 877-890 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20040359

HST observations of nuclear stellar disks

D. Krajnovic and W. Jaffe

Sterrewacht Leiden, Postbus 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
    e-mail: davor@strw.leidenuniv.nl

(Received 1 March 2004 / Accepted 11 August 2004 )

We present observations of four nearby early-type galaxies with previously known nuclear stellar disks using two instruments on-board the Hubble Space Telescope. We observed NGC 4128, NGC 4612, and NGC 5308 with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, and the same three galaxies, plus NGC 4570, with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph. We have detected a red nucleus in NGC 4128, a blue nucleus in NGC 4621, and a blue disk in NGC 5308. Additionally, we have discovered a blue disk-like feature with position angle ~ $15\degr$ from the major axis in NGC 4621. In NGC 5308 there is evidence for a blue region along the minor axis. We discovered a blue transient on the images of NGC 4128 at position  $0\farcs14$ west and  $0\farcs32$ north from the nucleus. The extracted kinematic profiles belong to two groups: fast (NGC 4570 and NGC 5308) and kinematically disturbed rotators (NGC 4128 and NGC 4621). We report the discovery of a kinematically decoupled core in NGC 4128. Galaxies have mostly old (10-14 Gyr) stellar populations with large spread in metallicities (sub- to super-solar). We discuss the possible formation scenarios, including bar-driven secular evolution and the influence of mergers, which can explain the observed color and kinematic features.

Key words: galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD -- galaxies: nuclei -- galaxies: kinematics and dynamics -- galaxies: photometry -- galaxies: stellar content -- galaxies: evolution

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© ESO 2004