Volume 457, Number 3, October III 2006
|Page(s)||787 - 808|
|Published online||12 September 2006|
Stellar populations of early-type galaxies in different environments
I. Line-strength indices. Relations of line-strengths with σ
Laboratoire d'Astrophysique, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Observatoire, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Dpto. de Astrofísica, Fac. de Ciencias Físicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
3 Calar Alto Observatory, CAHA, Apartado 511, 04004 Almería, Spain
4 Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apdo. Postal 70–264, México D.F., México
Accepted: 26 April 2006
Aims.This paper commences a series devoted to the study of the stellar content of early-type galaxies. The goal of the series is to set constraints on the evolutionary status of these objects.
Methods.In this paper we describe the details of the galaxy sample, the observations, and the data reduction. Line-strength indices and velocity dispersions (σ) are measured in 98 early-type galaxies drawn from different environments, and the relation of the indices with the velocity dispersion analysed in detail.
Results.The present sample indicates that some of the index–σ relations depend on galaxy environment. In particular, the slope of the relation between Balmer lines and σ is steeper for galaxies in the Virgo cluster, small groups, and in the field than for galaxies in the Coma cluster. In several indices there is also a significant offset in the zero point between the relations defined by the different subsamples. The slopes of the index–σ relation for the Virgo and low-density environment galaxies are explained by a variation of both age and metallicity, with velocity dispersion, as previously noted in other studies. For the galaxies in the Coma cluster, however, the relation of the indices with σ only requires a variation of the abundance along the σ sequence. In agreement with other studies, we find that the models that better reproduce the slopes are those in which the α elements vary more than the Fe-peak elements along the σ sequence, while, at a given σ, older galaxies show an higher α/Fe ratio.
Conclusions.The results can be explained assuming that galaxies in the Coma cluster have experienced a truncated star formation and chemical enrichment history compared to a more continuous time-extended history for their counterparts in lower density environments.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD / galaxies: stellar content
© ESO, 2006
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