A close look at the Centaurus A group of galaxies
Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Mönchhofstrasse 12-14, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
2 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
3 Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Institute of Advanced Studies, Australian National University, Cotter Road, Weston Creek, ACT 2611, Australia
Received: 17 July 2010
Accepted: 16 March 2011
Aims. We investigate the resolved stellar content of early-type dwarf galaxies in the Centaurus A group, to estimate their intermediate-age population fractions.
Methods. We use near-infrared photometric data taken with the VLT/ISAAC instrument, together with previously analyzed archival HST/ACS data. The combination of the optical and infrared wavelength range permits us to firmly identify luminous asymptotic giant branch stars, which are indicative of an intermediate-age population in these galaxies.
Results. We consider one dwarf spheroidal (CenA-dE1) and two dwarf elliptical (SGC1319.1-4216 and ESO269-066) galaxies that are dominated by an old population. The most recent periods of star formation are estimated to have taken place between ~2 and ~5 Gyr ago for SGC1319.1-4216 and ESO269-066, and approximately 9 Gyr ago for CenA-dE1. For ESO269-066, we find that the intermediate-age populations are significantly more centrally concentrated than the predominantly old underlying stars. The intermediate-age population fraction is found to be small in the target galaxies, consistent with fractions of up to ~15% of the total population. These values might be larger by a factor of two or three, if we considered the observational limitations and recent discussion about the uncertainties in theoretical models. We suggest that there is a correlation between intermediate-age population fraction and proximity to the dominant group galaxy, with closer dwarfs having slightly smaller fractions, although our sample is too small to draw firm conclusions.
Conclusions. Even when considering our results as lower limits, the intermediate-age population fractions for the studied dwarfs are clearly much smaller than those found in similar dwarfs around the Milky Way, but comparable to what is seen for the low-mass M 31 companions. Our results confirm our previous work about early-type dwarfs in the Centaurus A group.
Key words: galaxies: dwarf / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: photometry / galaxies: stellar content / galaxies: groups: individual: CenA group
Based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory, Paranal, Chile, within the observing Programme 073.B-0131.
Full Table 3 is only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (188.8.131.52) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/530/A58
© ESO, 2011