The morphological, spectroscopic and kinematical properties of the warm interstellar medium (wim) in early-type galaxies (ETGs) hold key observational constraints to nuclear activity and the buildup history of these massive quiescent systems. High-quality integral field spectroscopy (IFS) data with a wide spectral and spatial coverage, such as those from the CALIFA survey, offer a precious opportunity for advancing our understanding in this respect. We use deep IFS data from CALIFA (califa.caha.es) to study the wim over the entire extent and optical spectral range of 32 nearby ETGs. We find that all ETGs in our sample show faint (Hα equivalent width EW(Hα)∼0.5 … 2 Å) extranuclear nebular emission extending out to ≥2 Petrosian50 radii. Confirming and strengthening our conclusions in Papaderos et al. (2013, hereafter P13) we argue that ETGs span a broad continuous sequence with regard to the properties of their wim, and they can be roughly subdivided into two characteristic classes. The first one (type i) comprises ETGs with a nearly constant EW(Hα)∼1–3 Å in their extranuclear component, in quantitative agreement with (even though, no proof for) the hypothesis of photoionization by the post-AGB stellar component being the main driver of extended wim emission. The second class (type ii) consists of virtually wim-evacuated ETGs with a large Lyman continuum (Lyc) photon escape fraction and a very low (≤0.5 Å) EW(Hα) in their nuclear zone. These two ETG classes appear indistinguishable from one another by their LINER-specific emission-line ratios. Additionally, here we extend the classification by P13 by the class i+ which stands for a subset of type i ETGs with low-level star-forming activity in contiguous spiral-arm like features in their outermost periphery. These faint features, together with traces of localized star formation in several type i&i+ systems point to a non-negligible contribution from young massive stars to the global ionizing photon budget in ETGs.
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