Surface Brightness Fluctuations of Fornax Cluster Galaxies: Calibration of Infrared Surface Brightness Fluctuations and Evidence for Recent Star Formation - INSU - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers Access content directly
Journal Articles The Astrophysical Journal Year : 2002

Surface Brightness Fluctuations of Fornax Cluster Galaxies: Calibration of Infrared Surface Brightness Fluctuations and Evidence for Recent Star Formation

Michael C. Liu
  • Function : Author
James R. Graham
  • Function : Author

Abstract

We have measured KS-band (2.0-2.3 μm) surface brightness fluctuations (SBFs) of 19 early-type galaxies in the Fornax Cluster. Fornax is ideally suited both for calibrating SBFs as distance indicators and for using SBFs to probe the unresolved stellar content of early-type galaxies. Combining our results with published data for other nearby clusters, we calibrate KS-band SBFs using Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Cepheid cluster distances and I-band SBF distances to individual galaxies. With the latter, the resulting calibration isMKS=(-5.84+/-0.04)+(3.6+/-0.8)[(V- Ic)0-1.15],valid for 1.05<(V-Ic)0<1.25 and not including any systematic errors in the HST Cepheid distance scale. The fit accounts for the covariance between V-Ic and MKS when calibrated in this fashion. The intrinsic cosmic scatter of MKS appears to be larger than that of I-band SBFs. S0 galaxies may follow a different relation, although the data are inconclusive. The discovery of correlation between KS-band fluctuation magnitudes and colors with V-Ic is a new clue into the star formation histories of early-type galaxies. This relation naturally accounts for galaxies previously claimed to have anomalously bright K-band SBFs, namely, M32 and NGC 4489. Models indicate that the stellar populations dominating the SBF signal have a significant range in age; some scatter in metallicity may also be present. The youngest ages imply some galaxies have very luminous giant branches, akin to those in intermediate-age (few Gyr) Magellanic Cloud clusters. The inferred metallicities are roughly solar, although this depends on the choice of theoretical models. A few Fornax galaxies have unusually bright KS-band SBFs, perhaps originating from a high-metallicity burst of star formation in the last few Gyr. The increased spread and brightening of the KS-band SBFs with bluer V-Ic suggest that the lower mass cluster galaxies (<~0.1L*) may have had more extended and more heterogeneous star formation histories than those of the more massive galaxies.

Dates and versions

insu-03947325 , version 1 (19-01-2023)

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Michael C. Liu, James R. Graham, Stéphane Charlot. Surface Brightness Fluctuations of Fornax Cluster Galaxies: Calibration of Infrared Surface Brightness Fluctuations and Evidence for Recent Star Formation. The Astrophysical Journal, 2002, 564, pp.216-233. ⟨10.1086/324262⟩. ⟨insu-03947325⟩
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