Unveiling the σ-discrepancy in infrared-luminous mergers. I. Dust and dynamics.
ROTHBERG B. and FISCHER J.
Abstract (from CDS):
Mergers in the local universe present a unique opportunity for studying the transformations of galaxies in detail. Presented here are recent results, based on multi-wavelength, high-resolution imaging and medium resolution spectroscopy, which demonstrate how star formation and the presence of red supergiants and/or asymptotic giant branch stars have led to a serious underestimation of the dynamical masses of infrared-bright galaxies. The dominance of a nuclear disk of young stars in the near-infrared bands, where dust obscuration does not block their signatures, can severely bias the global properties measured in a galaxy, including mass. This explains why past studies of gas-rich luminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs) and ultraluminous infrared galaxies, which have measured dynamical masses using the 1.62 or 2.29 µm CO band heads, have found that these galaxies are forming m < m* ellipticals. On the other hand, precisely because of dust obscuration, I-band photometry and velocity dispersions obtained with the calcium II triplet at 0.85 µm reflect the global properties of the mergers and suggest that all types of merger remnants, including infrared-bright ones, will form m > m* ellipticals. Moreover, merger remnants, including LIRGs, are placed on the I-band fundamental plane for the first time and appear to be virtually indistinguishable from elliptical galaxies.