Stellar and dynamical masses of ellipticals in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Nikhil Padmanabhan, Uroš Seljak, Michael A. Strauss, Michael R. Blanton, Guinevere Kauffmann, David J. Schlegel, Christy Tremonti, Neta A. Bahcall, Mariangela Bernardi, J. Brinkmann, Masataka Fukugita, Željko Ivezić

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We study the variation of the dark matter mass fraction of elliptical galaxies as a function of their luminosity, stellar mass, and size using a sample of 29,469 elliptical galaxies culled from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. We model ellipticals as a stellar Hernquist profile embedded in an adiabatically compressed dark matter halo. This model allows us to estimate a dynamical mass (Mdynm) at the half-light radius from the velocity dispersion of the spectra, and to compare these to the stellar mass estimates (M*) from Kauffmann et al. [MNRAS 341 (2003) 33]. We find that M*/L is independent of luminosity, while Mdynm/L increases with luminosity, implying that the dark matter fraction increases with luminosity. We also observe that at a fixed luminosity or stellar mass, the dark matter fraction increases with increasing galaxy size or, equivalently, increases with decreasing surface brightness: high surface brightness galaxies show almost no evidence for dark matter, while in low surface brightness galaxies, the dark matter exceeds the stellar mass at the half-light radius. We relate this to the fundamental plane of elliptical galaxies, suggesting that the tilt of this plane from simple virial predictions is due to the dark matter in galaxies. We find that a simple model where galaxies are embedded in dark matter halos and have a star formation efficiency independent of their surface brightness explains these trends. We estimate the virial mass of ellipticals as being approximately 7-30 times their stellar mass, with the lower limit suggesting almost all of the gas within the virial radius is converted into stars.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)329-342
    Number of pages14
    JournalNew Astronomy
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Jun 2004


    • Dark matter
    • Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular
    • Galaxies: halos
    • cD

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Instrumentation
    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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