The mass distribution in early-type disc galaxies: declining rotation curves and correlations with optical properties

E. Noordermeer*, J. M. van der Hulst, R. Sancisi, R. S. Swaters, T. S. van Albada

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

132 Citaten (Scopus)
208 Downloads (Pure)


We present rotation curves for 19 early-type disc galaxies (S0-Sab). The galaxies span a B-band absolute magnitude range from -17.5 to -22, but the majority have a high luminosity with M-B <-20. Rotation velocities are measured from a combination of H I velocity fields and long-slit optical emission line spectra along the major axis; the resulting rotation curves probe the gravitational potential on scales ranging from 100 pc to 100 kpc.

We find that the rotation curves generally rise rapidly in the central regions and often reach rotation velocities of 200-300 km s(-1) within a few hundred parsecs of the centre. The detailed shape of the central rotation curves shows a clear dependence on the concentration of the stellar light distribution and the bulge-to-disc luminosity ratio: galaxies with highly concentrated stellar light distributions reach the maximum in their rotation curves at relatively smaller radii than galaxies with small bulges and a relatively diffuse light distribution. We interpret this as a strong indication that the dynamics in the central regions are dominated by the stellar mass.

At intermediate radii, many rotation curves decline, with the asymptotic rotation velocity typically 10-20 per cent lower than the maximum. The strength of the decline is correlated with the total luminosity of the galaxies, more luminous galaxies having on average more strongly declining rotation curves. At large radii, however, all declining rotation curves flatten out, indicating that substantial amounts of dark matter must be present in these galaxies too.

A comparison of our rotation curves with the Universal Rotation Curve from Persic et al. reveals large discrepancies between the observed and predicted rotation curves; we argue that rotation curves form a multiparameter family which is too complex to describe with a simple formula depending on total luminosity only.

In a number of galaxies from our sample, there is evidence for the presence of rapidly rotating gas in the inner few hundred parsecs from the centres. The inferred central masses and mass densities are too high to be explained by the observed stellar components and suggest the presence of supermassive black holes in these galaxies.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1513-1546
Aantal pagina's34
TijdschriftMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Nummer van het tijdschrift4
StatusPublished - 21-apr.-2007

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