AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 194 Galaxy Morphology and its Evolution
Oral, Thursday, 10:00-11:30am, January 12, 2006, Salon 1

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[194.05] The Velocity Dispersion Distribution Function of Elliptical Galaxies: Properties and Promise

R. C. Berrington, M. J. Pierce, S. Hwang (University of Wyoming)

We present a large sample of new line-of-sight velocity dispersions for early type galaxies within several nearby Abell clusters. The selection criteria for clusters included in this survey are richness class R \geq 1, and redshift z < 0.05. All spectra were acquired by the multi-fiber spectrograph (Hydra) on the WIYN 3.5m telescope, and were obtained at a dispersion of 0.48 Å/pixel with typical signal-to-noise ratios ranging from ~100/pixel for the brighter galaxies to ~30/pixel for the fainter galaxies. The data enables us to measure high-precision velocity dispersions with reliable measurements to \log(\sigma) \geq 1.8. We use these measurements to study the velocity dispersion distribution function (VDDF) of early type galaxies within the rich cluster environment. The VDDF is characterized by an analytic function analogous to the Schechter luminosity function. We measure the characteristic \sigma* and look for correlations with observed properties of survey clusters. We discuss the potential of the VDDF for characterizing the mass evolution of early type galaxies.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: rberring@uwyo.edu

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