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2010ApJ...723...54K - Astrophys. J., 723, 54-80 (2010/November-1)

Bulgeless giant galaxies challenge our picture of galaxy formation by hierarchical clustering.


Abstract (from CDS):

To better understand the prevalence of bulgeless galaxies in the nearby field, we dissect giant Sc-Scd galaxies with Hubble Space Telescope (HST) photometry and Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) spectroscopy. We use the HET High Resolution Spectrograph (resolution R ≡ λ/FWHM ≃ 15, 000) to measure stellar velocity dispersions in the nuclear star clusters and (pseudo)bulges of the pure-disk galaxies M 33, M 101, NGC 3338, NGC 3810, NGC 6503, and NGC 6946. The dispersions range from 20±1 km/s in the nucleus of M 33 to 78±2 km/s in the pseudobulge of NGC 3338. We use HST archive images to measure the brightness profiles of the nuclei and (pseudo)bulges in M 101, NGC 6503, and NGC 6946 and hence to estimate their masses. The results imply small mass-to-light ratios consistent with young stellar populations. These observations lead to two conclusions. (1) Upper limits on the masses of any supermassive black holes are M< (2.6±0.5)x106 M in M 101 and M< (2.0±0.6)x106 Min NGC 6503. (2) We show that the above galaxies contain only tiny pseudobulges that make up <3% of the stellar mass. This provides the strongest constraints to date on the lack of classical bulges in the biggest pure-disk galaxies. We inventory the galaxies in a sphere of radius 8 Mpc centered on our Galaxy to see whether giant, pure-disk galaxies are common or rare. We find that at least 11 of 19 galaxies with Vcirc> 150 km/s, including M 101, NGC 6946, IC 342, and our Galaxy, show no evidence for a classical bulge. Four may contain small classical bulges that contribute 5%-12% of the light of the galaxy. Only four of the 19 giant galaxies are ellipticals or have classical bulges that contribute ∼1/3 of the galaxy light. We conclude that pure-disk galaxies are far from rare. It is hard to understand how bulgeless galaxies could form as the quiescent tail of a distribution of merger histories. Recognition of pseudobulges makes the biggest problem with cold dark matter galaxy formation more acute: How can hierarchical clustering make so many giant, pure-disk galaxies with no evidence for merger-built bulges? Finally, we emphasize that this problem is a strong function of environment: the Virgo cluster is not a puzzle, because more than 2/3 of its stellar mass is in merger remnants.

Abstract Copyright:

Journal keyword(s): galaxies: evolution - galaxies: formation - galaxies: individual (M 33, NGC 3338, NGC 3810, NGC 5457, NGC 6503, NGC 6946) - galaxies: nuclei - galaxies: photometry - galaxies: structure

Simbad objects: 37

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