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Galaxies 2017, 5(3), 31; doi:10.3390/galaxies5030031

A Photometric Study of Giant Ellipticals and Their Stellar Halos With VST

1
INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte, Salita Moiariello 16, I80131 Naples, Italy
2
Department of physics, University of Naples Federico II, C.U. Monte Sant’Angelo, Via Cinthia, 80126 Naples, Italy
3
Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham DH1 3, UK
4
INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Teramo, Via Maggini, 64100 Teramo, Italy
5
Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing, Swinburne University, Hawthorn 3122, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Emilio Elizalde
Received: 15 June 2017 / Revised: 19 July 2017 / Accepted: 20 July 2017 / Published: 26 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue On the Origin (and Evolution) of Baryonic Galaxy Halos)
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Abstract

Observations of diffuse starlight in the outskirts of galaxies are thought to be a fundamental source of constraints on the cosmological context of galaxy assembly in the Λ CDM model. Such observations are not trivial because of the extreme faintness of such regions. In this work, we investigated the photometric properties of six massive early-type galaxies (ETGs) in the VST Elliptical GAlaxies Survey (VEGAS) sample (NGC 1399, NGC 3923, NGC 4365, NGC 4472, NGC 5044, and NGC 5846) out to extremely low surface brightness levels with the goal of characterizing the global structure of their light profiles for comparison to state-of-the-art galaxy formation models. We carried out deep and detailed photometric mapping of our ETG sample taking advantage of deep imaging with VST/OmegaCAM in the g and i bands. By fitting the light profiles, and comparing the results to simulations of elliptical galaxy assembly, we have identified signatures of a transition between relaxed and unrelaxed accreted components and can constrain the balance between in situ and accreted stars. The very good agreement of our results with predictions from theoretical simulations demonstrates that the full VEGAS sample of 100 ETGs will allow us to use the distribution of diffuse light as a robust statistical probe of the hierarchical assembly of massive galaxies. View Full-Text
Keywords: techniques: image processing; galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD; galaxies: fundamental parameters; galaxies: formation; galaxies: halos techniques: image processing; galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD; galaxies: fundamental parameters; galaxies: formation; galaxies: halos
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Spavone, M.; Capaccioli, M.; Napolitano, N.R.; Iodice, E.; Grado, A.; Limatola, L.; Cooper, A.P.; Cantiello, M.; Forbes, D.A.; Paolillo, M.; Schipani, P. A Photometric Study of Giant Ellipticals and Their Stellar Halos With VST. Galaxies 2017, 5, 31.

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