AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 36. Interacting Galaxies
Display, Tuesday, June 5, 2001, 10:00am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[36.07] The Formation of Elliptical Galaxies via Mergers

B. Rothberg, R.D. Joseph (University of Hawaii, IfA)

Among the most intriguing objects in the local universe are galaxies which emit 90% of their bolometric luminosity in the infrared. Many of them have morphological signs suggestive of mergers between spiral galaxies. The extreme IR luminosity appears to be powered by an intense burst of recent star formation. Numerical simulations of such objects suggest that they may be elliptical galaxies in formation.

To investigate this idea, we have obtained a complete set of near infrared observations for three such objects, NGC 1614, NGC 2623, and IRAS 05189-2524. We have measured K band surface brightness profiles, velocity dispersions, and rotational velocities to examine whether or not these mergers exhibit the properties of elliptical galaxies. Using 1-2.5 \mum medium resolution spectroscopy we also investigate evidence for recent star formation. These results strongly suggest that these three objects are in the process of becoming elliptical galaxies.

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