Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 472, 2889-2905 (2017/December-2)
Stellar populations of shell galaxies.
CARLSTEN S.G., HAU G.K.T. and ZENTENO A.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present a study of the inner (out to ∼1 Reff) stellar populations of nine shell galaxies. We derive stellar population parameters from long-slit spectra by both analysing the Lick indices of the galaxies and by fitting single stellar population model spectra to the full galaxy spectra. The results from the two methods agree reasonably well. A few of the shell galaxies appear to have lower central Mg2 index values than the general population of galaxies of the same central velocity dispersion, which is possibly due to a past interaction event. Our sample shows a relation between central metallicity and velocity dispersion that is consistent with previous samples of non-shell galaxies. Analysing the metallicity gradients in our sample, we find an average gradient of -0.16 ± 0.10 dex decade–1 in radius. We compare this with formation models to constrain the merging history of shell galaxies. We argue that our galaxies likely have undergone major mergers but it is unclear whether the shells formed from these events or from separate minor mergers. Additionally, we find evidence for young stellar populations ranging in age from 500 Myr to 4-5 Gyr in four of the galaxies, allowing us to speculate on the age of the shells. For NGC 5670, we use a simple dynamical model to find the time required to produce the observed distribution of shells to be roughly consistent with the age of the young subpopulation, suggesting that the shells and subpopulation possibly formed from the same event.