Volume 409, Number 1, October I 2003
|Page(s)||91 - 97|
|Published online||17 November 2003|
On the nature of the galaxy NGC 5666
IATE, Observatorio Astronómico, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, & CONICET, Laprida 854, 5000, Córdoba, Argentina
2 UMR 5572, Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées, 14 avenue E. Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
Corresponding author: C. J. Donzelli, email@example.com
Accepted: 2 July 2003
We present B and R CCD images and optical spectroscopy in the range 3700–8900 Å for the galaxy NGC 5666, which until now was considered as a low-luminosity elliptical. The high-resolution images show a conspicuous spiral pattern which is limited to the inner region (, or 1/6 of the isophotal radius) and a faint (presumably tidal) outer feature dotted with small knots resembling star clusters or tidal dwarf galaxies. The patchy spiral structure and the luminosity profiles suggest a late-type morphological type, but the disk is of high central surface brightness and the bulge weak and very extended. The nuclear spectrum reveals typical emission lines found in late-type galaxies, but the underlying nuclear stellar population and continuum only match that of an elliptical galaxy combined with a young (<1 Gyr) stellar population. These and other properties of the galaxy suggest that this could be a minor merger, at an intermediate stage, between a gas-rich dwarf and a small early-type disk galaxy. If this is the case, the galaxy NGC 5666 will provide important constraints to the theory of hierarchical galaxy formation.
Key words: galaxies: photometry
© ESO, 2003
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