NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2008A-0138

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Proposal Information for 2008A-0138


PI: Kimberly A. Herrmann, Penn State University, herrmann@astro.psu.edu
Address: Dept. of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 525 Davey Lab, University Park, PA 16802, USA

CoI: Robin Ciardullo, Penn State University

Title: The Stellar Kinematics of Outer Disks: Evidence for Halo Substructure?

Abstract: Our understanding of galaxy formation is limited by our weak knowledge of galactic mass profiles. Rotation curves reveal dark matter halos around spirals, but halo mass profiles cannot be decoupled from the visible disk mass using rotation curves alone. To break this disk- halo degeneracy, we have been using planetary nebulae (PNe) to measure the z-component of the stellar velocity dispersion for the disks of face-on spirals. These measurements of \sigma_z, coupled with straightforward assumptions, have yielded disk surface mass estimates over several scale lengths in 6 spiral galaxies. Our survey has produced an interesting result: while the inner ~ 3 disk scale lengths of spiral galaxies have a constant mass-to-light ratio (consistent with a maximal-disk), \sigma_z in the outer disks is roughly flat with radius. This could be evidence for an increasing disk mass-to-light ratio, the presence of additional luminosity at large radii, or the existence of discrete cold-dark-matter subhalos which heat the disk. We propose to further investigate this phenomenon by using the Mosaic camera on the 4-m telescope to extend our PN survey to the extreme outer disks of three galaxies: M94, M101, and IC 342. If this imaging is successful, we will then propose follow-up spectroscopy with WIYN\null. At this time, we are also proposing to improve our knowledge of the disks' stellar content and surface brightness profile by performing JHK imaging with NEWFIRM.


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2008A-0138

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