EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 430, Number 2, February I 2005
Page(s) L25 - L28
Section Letters
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:200400119

A&A 430, L25-L28 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:200400119


Discovery of two M 32 twins in Abell 1689

S. Mieske1, 2, L. Infante2, M. Hilker1, G. Hertling2, J. P. Blakeslee3, N. Benítez4, H. Ford3 and K. Zekser3

1  Sternwarte der Universität Bonn, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany
    e-mail: smieske@astro.uni-bonn.de
2  Departamento de Astronomía y Astrofísica, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Casilla 306, Santiago 22, Chile
3  Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
4  Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC), Camino Bajo de Huétor 24, Granada 18008, Spain

(Received 3 November 2004 / Accepted 9 December 2004 )

The M 31 satellite galaxy M 32 has long been considered an object of unique properties, being the most extreme example of the very rare compact elliptical galaxy class. Here we present the spectroscopic discovery of two M 32 twins in the massive galaxy cluster Abell 1689. As these objects are so rare, this is an important step towards a better understanding of the nature of compact galaxies. The two M 32 twins had first been detected within our photometric search for ultra compact dwarf galaxy (UCDs) candidates in A1689 (Mieske et al. 2004b, AJ, 128, 1529) with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). Their luminosities ( $M_{V}\simeq -17$ mag) are very similar to M 32 and their surface brightness profiles are consistent with that of M 32 projected to A1689's distance. From our ACS imaging we detect several fainter compact galaxy candidates with luminosities intermediate between M 32 and the Fornax UCDs. If spectroscopically confirmed as cluster members, this would almost close the gap in the mag- $\mu$ plane between the region of UCDs and the compact ellipticals, implying a sequence of faint compact galaxies well separated from that of dwarf ellipticals.

Key words: galaxies: clusters: individual: Abell 1689 -- galaxies: dwarf -- galaxies: structure -- galaxies: interactions

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