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B. Rothberg, R. D. Joseph (IfA, U. Hawaii)
We present near infrared images at the J, H, and K bandpasses for a sample of luminous and ultra-luminous infrared galaxies in order to explore the idea that disk galaxies merge to form elliptical galaxies. Surface brightness profiles have been measured at the K bandpass and fit to a de Vaucouleurs r1/4 profile for these objects. The K band surface brightness profiles of a majority of the sample objects follow an r1/4 profile and show excess light at small radii which may be indicative of dissipative collapse. The profiles resemble numerical models for the merging of two disk galaxies followed by a subsequent starburst. In addition, the infrared colors of these sample objects appear to be redder than normal galaxies indicating the presence of a starburst. The photometry presented lends support to the idea that at least some galaxies merge to form elliptical galaxies.