Luminosity Profiles of Merger Remnants paper

Luminosity Profiles of Merger Remnants

J. E. Hibbard & M. S. Yun, NRAO

The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 522, L93 (1999) (pdf) (ADS)

Using published optical light and molecular gas profiles of the late-stage merger remnants NGC 3921, NGC 7252, and Arp 220, we examine the expected luminosity profiles of the evolved merger remnants, especially in light of the massive CO complexes that are observed in their nuclei. For NGC 3921 and NGC 7252 we predict that the resulting luminosity profiles will be characterized by an r1/4 law. In view of previous optical work on these systems, it seems likely that they will evolve into normal ellipticals as regards their optical properties. Due to a much higher central molecular column density, Arp 220 might not evolve such a ``seamless'' light profile. We conclude that ultraluminous infrared mergers such as Arp 220 either evolve into ellipticals with anomalous luminosity profiles, or do not produce many low-mass stars out of their molecular gas complexes.

Auxilary Figure: Central CO Maps of NGC 3921 (left) and NGC 7252 (right) (.gif)

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