NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2003B-0102

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Proposal Information for 2003B-0102


PI: Lisa M. Young, New Mexico Tech, lyoung@physics.nmt.edu
Address: Physics Department, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM 87801, USA

CoI: Martin Bureau, Columbia
CoI: Liese van Zee, Indiana University
CoI: Thomas S. Statler, Ohio University

Title: The Evolution of Elliptical Galaxies: CO content vs. Dust and Isophote Shapes

Abstract: We propose to carry out V and I imaging of 60 early-type (elliptical and S0) galaxies. These 60 galaxies are selected because they have been searched for molecular gas (CO emission); 40% are detected in CO. The V and I images will allow us to measure their dust morphologies and isophote shapes (boxy/disky). We will then (1) compare the distribution of CO detections and nondetections among boxy and disky galaxies, and (2) search for correlations between CO luminosity and dust morphology. The primary scientific motivation for this work is that the cold gas content of ellipticals is thought to be an indicator of their recent interaction history. Current theories on the formation of boxy and disky ellipticals predict that the CO detection rate will be higher among disky types than boxy types. Such analyses cannot be done with existing data: even though dozens of ellipticals are well studied in the optical, and dozens of ellipticals have been searched for CO, differing selection criteria mean that there are only a handful of galaxies for which high quality optical images and CO data both exist. The present proposal would close that gap, allowing us to undertake meaningful studies of how these galaxies' optical properties are related to their CO contents.


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