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Gaseous Disks in Elliptical Galaxies

  • G. Bertin (a1), F. Bertola (a2), L.M. Buson (a3), J. Danziger (a4), H. Dejonghe (a5), E.M. Sadler (a6), R.P. Saglia (a1), M. Vietri (a7), T. de Zeeuw (a8) and W. W. Zeilinger (a4)...

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A powerful way to measure the mass distribution in elliptical galaxies is to study systems with a central disk of ionized gas. Such disks occur in a small fraction (perhaps 10–20%) of nearby ellipticals, and the gas is generally believed to have been accreted from outside the galaxy as the result of a merger or interaction. Once the gas disk has settled into a principal plane of the stellar figure, measurements of its orientation and kinematics set strong constraints on the shape and orientation of the galaxy and allow us to derive M/L as a function of radius. Indeed, the observations discussed here were made at the ESO/MPI 2.2-m telescope as part of our ESO KEY-PROGRAMME, in which we aim to determine the mass-to-light ratios of nearby elliptical galaxies and examine the evidence for dark matter.

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