NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2003B-0383

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Proposal Information for 2003B-0383


PI: Ronald Marzke, San Francisco State University, marzke@sfsu.edu
Address: Physics Department, 1600 Holloway Ave., San Francisco, CA 94132, USA

Title: A Search for Compact Elliptical Galaxies in the Field

Abstract: Compact ellipticals are thought to be exceedingly rare, yet the prototype sits in our own backyard. M32 has been the subject of intense scrutiny for the better part of a century but remains something of a mystery. Several models attempt to explain its peculiar structure, but with so few compact ellipticals known, none of the leading candidates can be definitively ruled out. The recent discovery of compact dwarfs in the Fornax cluster (Phillipps et al. 2001) suggests that the paucity of known compact dwarfs may be due in part to the difficulty of resolving these objects beyond the local supercluster. Here, we propose a search for compact dwarfs in a more common environment: the fields of nearby spirals. Our approach is to obtain spectra for all sources with colors consistent with local elliptical galaxies, and unlike most galaxy surveys, unresolved sources are the primary targets. If compact companions exist in any numbers, their positions and velocities in the parent galaxy halo will yield the first statistically meaningful constraints on the role of tides in their formation.


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