NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2012A-0365

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Proposal Information for 2012A-0365


PI: Patrick Cote, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, Patrick.Cote@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
Address: National Research Council of Canada, 5071 West Saanich Road, RR. 5, Victoria, British Columbia, V9E 2E7, Canada

CoI: Richard McDermid, Gemini Observatory - North
CoI: Dean McLaughlin, Keele University
CoI: Patrick Durrell, Youngstown State University
CoI: John Blakeslee, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics
CoI: Laura Ferrarese, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics
CoI: Eric Emsellem, European Southern Observatory
CoI: Lauren MacArthur, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics
CoI: Eric Peng, Peking University

Title: The Origin of Low-Mass, Early-Type Galaxies: A GMOS/IFU Survey of the Virgo Cluster

Abstract: IFU spectroscopy for a large, unbiased sample of early-type galaxies (ETGs) in the local volume (ATLAS3D) has revolutionized our understanding of their structure, dynamics, stellar populations and morphology. However, this survey was carried out with a 4m-class telescope (WHT), so it reaches only to a galaxy mass of 5 billion solar masses. In other words, the state-of-the-art ETG sample does not contain even a single galaxy in the low-mass regime, despite the fact that such systems dominate galaxy numbers in all environments. We propose to use the GMOS IFU to carry out the first systematic study of a complete sample of low-mass, compact galaxies in the Virgo cluster, identified from our Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey. The nature of such galaxies is currently a subject of hot debate within the comunity, being viewed as either: (1) the lowest-mass, E-type systems that formed via hierarchical merging and violent relaxation; or (2) the tidally-stripped remains of what were initially much more massive systems. Our proposed program will provide a clear test of these scenarios by yielding 2D maps of velocity, velocity dispersion, age, [Z/H] and [alpha/Fe] for all low-mass, compact galaxies located within the virial radius of the Virgo cluster.


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