Volume 578, June 2015
|Number of page(s)||36|
|Published online||16 June 2015|
Dozens of compact and high velocity-dispersion, early-type galaxies in Sloan Digital Sky Survey⋆
1 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Straße 2, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
2 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
3 European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura, Casilla 19001, Santiago, Chile
4 Department of Astrophysics, University of Vienna, Türkenschanzstraße 17, 1180 Vienna, Austria
Received: 5 December 2014
Accepted: 17 March 2015
Context. Passive galaxies at high redshift are much smaller than equally massive early types today. If this size evolution is caused by stochastic merging processes, then a small fraction of the compact galaxies should persist until today. Up to now it has not been possible to systematically identify the existence of such objects in Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS).
Aims. We aim at finding potential survivors of these compact galaxies in SDSS, as targets for more detailed follow-up observations.
Methods. From the virial theorem, it is expected that for a given mass, compact galaxies have stellar velocity dispersion higher than the mean owing to their smaller sizes. Therefore velocity dispersion, coupled with size (or mass), is an appropriate method of selecting relics, independent of the stellar population properties. Based on these considerations, we designed a set of criteria the use the distribution of early-type galaxies from SDSS on the log 10(R0) − log 10(σ0) plane to find the most extreme objects on it. We thus selected compact massive galaxy candidates by restricting them to high velocity dispersions σ0> 323.2 km s-1 and small sizes R0< 2.18 kpc.
Results. We find 76 galaxies at 0.05 <z< 0.2, which have properties that are similar to the typical quiescent galaxies at high redshift. We discuss how these galaxies relate to average present-day early-type galaxies. We study how well these galaxies fit on well-known local universe relations of early-type galaxies, such as the fundamental plane, the red sequence, or mass-size relations. As expected from the selection criteria, the candidates are located in an extreme corner of the mass-size plane. However, they do not extend as deeply into the so-called zone of exclusion as some of the red nuggets found at high redshift, since they are a factor 2−3 less massive on a given intrinsic scale size. Several of our candidates are close to the size resolution limit of SDSS, but are not so small that they are classified as point sources. We find that our candidates are systematically offset on a scaling relation compared to the average early-type galaxies, but still within the general range of other early-type galaxies. Furthermore, our candidates are similar to the mass-size range expected for passive evolution of the red nuggets from their high redshift to the present.
Conclusions. The 76 selected candidates form an appropriate set of objects for further follow-up observations. They do not constitute a separate population of peculiar galaxies, but form the extreme tail of a continuous distribution of early-type galaxies. We argue that selecting a high-velocity dispersion is the best way to find analogues of compact high redshift galaxies in the local universe.
Key words: galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD / surveys / galaxies: fundamental parameters / galaxies: peculiar
Tables 2, 3, and Appendices are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2015
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