CALIFA reveals prolate rotation in massive early-type galaxies: A polar galaxy merger origin?
1 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
2 Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, Postbus 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
3 Purple Mountain Observatory, the Partner Group of the MPI für Astronomie, 2 West Beijing Road, Nanjing 210008, PR China
4 Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, vía Láctea s/n, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
5 Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
6 New York University Abu Dhabi, PO Box 129188, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Received: 8 December 2016
Accepted: 12 July 2017
We present new evidence for eight early-type galaxies (ETGs) from the CALIFA Survey that show clear rotation around their major photometric axis (“prolate rotation”). These are LSBCF560-04, NGC 0647, NGC 0810, NGC 2484, NGC 4874, NGC 5216, NGC 6173, and NGC 6338. Including NGC 5485, a known case of an ETG with stellar prolate rotation, as well as UGC 10695, a further candidate for prolate rotation, we report ten CALIFA galaxies in total that show evidence for such a feature in their stellar kinematics. Prolate rotators correspond to ~9% of the volume-corrected sample of CALIFA ETGs, a fraction much higher than previously reported. We find that prolate rotation is more common (~27%) among the most massive ETGs (M∗ ≳ 2 × 1011M⊙). We investigated the implications of these findings by studying N-body merger simulations, and we show that a prolate ETG with rotation around its major axis could be the result of a major polar merger, with the amplitude of prolate rotation depending on the initial bulge-to-total stellar mass ratio of its progenitor galaxies. Additionally, we find that prolate ETGs resulting from this formation scenario show a correlation between their stellar line-of-sight velocity and higher order moment h3, opposite to typical oblate ETGs, as well as a double peak of their stellar velocity dispersion along their minor axis. Finally, we investigated the origin of prolate rotation in polar galaxy merger remnants. Our findings suggest that prolate rotation in massive ETGs might be more common than previously expected, and can help toward a better understanding of their dynamical structure and formation origin.
Key words: galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD / galaxies: formation / galaxies: kinematics and dynamics / galaxies: structure / galaxies: stellar content
© ESO, 2017