The Rising Stellar Velocity Dispersion Of M87 From Integrated Starlight




Murphy, Jeremy D.
Gebhardt, Karl
Cradit, Mason

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We have measured the line-of-sight velocity distribution from integrated stellar light at two points in the outer halo of M87 (NGC 4486), the second-rank galaxy in the Virgo Cluster. The data were taken at R = 480 '' (similar to 41.5 kpc) and R = 526 '' (similar to 45.5 kpc) along the SE major axis. The second moment for a non-parametric estimate of the full velocity distribution is 420 +/- 23 km s(-1) and 577 +/- 35 km s(-1), respectively. There is intriguing evidence in the velocity profiles for two kinematically distinct stellar components at the position of our pointing. Under this assumption, we employ a two-Gaussian decomposition and find the primary Gaussian having rest velocities equal to M87 (consistent with zero rotation) and second moments of 383 +/- 32 km s(-1) and 446 +/- 43 km s(-1), respectively. The asymmetry seen in the velocity profiles suggests that the stellar halo of M87 is not in a relaxed Stateand confuses a clean dynamical interpretation. That said, either measurement (full or two component model) shows a rising velocity dispersion at large radii, consistent with previous integrated light measurements, yet significantly higher than globular cluster measurements at comparable radial positions. These integrated light measurements at large radii, and the stark contrast they make to the measurements of other kinematic tracers, highlight the rich kinematic complexity of environments like the center of the Virgo Cluster and the need for caution when interpreting kinematic measurements from various dynamical tracers.


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Murphy, Jeremy D., Karl Gebhardt, and Mason Cradit. "The Rising Stellar Velocity Dispersion of M87 from Integrated Starlight." The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 785, No. 2 (Apr., 2014): 143.