ar X iv : a st ro - p h / 98 11 23 1 v 1 1 4 N ov 1 99 8 The Survival of The Core Fundamental Plane Against Galactic Mergers


The basic dimensional properties of the centers of elliptical galaxies, such as length scale, luminosity, and velocity dispersion, lie on a Fundamental Plane similar to that of elliptical galaxies as a whole. The orientation of this plane, and the distribution of core parameters within it, project to a strong correlation of core density with either core or total luminosity, and indicate that low luminosity ellipticals are much denser than high luminosity galaxies (HST data suggests that this relationship may be as steep as ρc ∝ L). In addition, low luminosity ellipticals have a much smaller length scale than their high luminosity counterparts. Since we think small galaxies are occasionally accreted by big ones, the high density of these galaxies and their likely durability against the time-varying tidal field of the bigger ones suggests that they will survive substantially intact in the cores of larger galaxies and would be easily visible. Their presence would destroy the observed correlation. Motivated by this apparent inconsistency between an observed fact and a simple physical argument, we have developed an effective simulation method and applied it to the problem of the accretion of very dense secondary companions by tenuous primaries. We have studied the accretion of objects of varying luminosity ratios, with sizes and densities drawn from the Fundamental Plane under the assumption that the mass distribution in the central parts of the galaxies follows the light. The results indicate that in mergers with mass ratios greater than 10, chosen with an appropriate central density dependence on luminosity, the smaller object is only stripped down to the highest density encountered in the primary during the accretion process. Thus, the form of the core Fundamental Plane suggests that the mass distribution in the galaxy centers is different than the light distribution, or that an understanding of

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@inproceedings{Bockelmann1998arXI, title={ar X iv : a st ro - p h / 98 11 23 1 v 1 1 4 N ov 1 99 8 The Survival of The Core Fundamental Plane Against Galactic Mergers}, author={Kelly Holley - Bockelmann and Douglas O . Richstone}, year={1998} }