Monday, June 24, 2013

1306.4983 (Russell J. Smith et al.)

A giant elliptical galaxy with a lightweight initial mass function    [PDF]

Russell J. Smith, John R. Lucey
We present new VLT observations of the closest-known strong-lensing galaxy, the sigma=330 km/s giant elliptical ESO325-G004. The low redshift of the lens (z_lens=0.035) results in arcs being formed at a small fraction of the effective radius, (R_Ein ~ R_Eff/4). At such small radii, stars dominate the lensing mass, so that lensing provides a direct probe of the stellar mass-to-light ratio, with only small corrections needed for dark matter. The redshift of the galaxy lensed by ESO325-G004 was unknown until now, so the lensing mass was not securely determined. Using X-SHOOTER, we measure a secure source redshift of z_src=2.141. Combined with the lensing configuration, this yields a total mass inside the Einstein radius of (1.50+/-0.06) 10^11 M_sun. We estimate the range of possible contribution of dark matter to the lensing mass, using statistics from cosmological N-body simulations. Subtracting this component yields a stellar M/L ratio for the lens of 3.14^+0.24_-0.42 (M/L)_sun (in F814W band). Using VIMOS, we have also obtained very high-S/N spectroscopy for the lens galaxy. The VIMOS data confirm that ESO325-G004 has a very old stellar population. For a Kroupa IMF, the stellar population fit yields a predicted stellar M/L ratio of 3.01+/-0.25 (M/L)_sun. Hence the mass attributable to stars with this IMF is consistent with the lensing estimate. By contrast, a Salpeter or heavier IMF is disfavoured at the 99.8% confidence level. A "heavyweight" IMF, with a mass twice as large as the Kroupa case, is firmly excluded. Such an IMF has been proposed for more distant elliptical lenses, and also to explain strong dwarf-star spectral features, in particular the NaI 8200-Ang doublet. A FORS2 far-red spectrum shows that this feature is as strong in ESO325-G004 as it is in other high-sigma ellipticals, suggesting tension between dwarf-star indicators and lensing-mass constraints for this galaxy.
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