Universal IMF versus dark halo response in early-type galaxies: Breaking the degeneracy with the Fundamental Plane

Aaron A. Dutton, Andrea V. Macciò, J. Trevor Mendel, Luc Simard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use the relations between aperture stellar velocity dispersion (σap), stellar mass (MSPS) and galaxy size (Re) for a sample of ~150 000 early-type galaxies from Sloan Digital Sky Survey/DR7 to place constraints on the stellar initial mass function (IMF) and dark halo response to galaxy formation.We build λ cold dark matter-based mass models that reproduce, by construction, the relations between galaxy size, light concentration and stellar mass, and use the spherical Jeans equations to predict σap. Given our model assumptions (including those in the stellar population synthesis models), we find that reproducing the median σap versus MSPS relation is not possible with both a universal IMF and a universal dark halo response. Significant departures from a universal IMF and/or dark halo response are required, but there is a degeneracy between these two solutions. We show that this degeneracy can be broken using the strength of the correlation between residuals of the velocity-mass (δlog σap) and size-mass (δlog Re) relations. The slope of this correlation, ∂VR = δlog σap/δ logRe, varies systematically with galaxy mass from ∂VR ≃ -0.45 at MSPS ~ 1010M⊙ to ∂VR ≃ -0.15 at MSPS ~ 1011.6M⊙. The virial Fundamental Plane (FP) has ∂VR = -1/2, and thus we find that the tilt of the observed FP is mass dependent. Reproducing this tilt requires both a nonuniversal IMF and a non-universal halo response. Our best model has mass-follows-light at low masses (MSPS ≲ 1011.2M⊙) and unmodified Navarro, Frenk and White haloes at MSPS ~ 1011.5M⊙. The stellar masses imply a mass-dependent IMF which is 'lighter' than Salpeter at low masses and 'heavier' than Salpeter at high masses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2496-2511
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Dark matter
  • Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • Galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • Galaxies: haloes
  • Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • Stars: luminosity function, mass function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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