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Strong gravitational lensing and the stellar IMF of early-type galaxies


Leier, Dominik; Ferreras, Ignacio; Saha, Prasenjit; Charlot, Stéphane; Bruzual, Gustavo; La Barbera, Francesco (2016). Strong gravitational lensing and the stellar IMF of early-type galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 459(4):3677-3692.

Abstract

Systematic variations of the initial mass function (IMF) in early-type galaxies, and their connection with possible drivers such as velocity dispersion or metallicity, have been much debated in recent years. Strong lensing over galaxy scales combined with photometric and spectroscopic data provides a powerful method to constrain the stellar mass-to-light ratio and hence the functional form of the IMF. We combine photometric and spectroscopic constraints from the latest set of population synthesis models of Charlot & Bruzual, including a varying IMF, with a non-parametric analysis of the lens masses of 18 ETGs from the SLACS survey, with velocity dispersions in the range 200-300 km s-1. We find that very bottom-heavy IMFs are excluded. However, the upper limit to the bimodal IMF slope (μ ≲ 2.2, accounting for a dark matter fraction of 20-30 per cent, where μ = 1.3 corresponds to a Kroupa-like IMF) is compatible at the 1σ level with constraints imposed by gravity-sensitive line strengths. A two-segment power-law parametrization of the IMF (Salpeter-like for high masses) is more constrained (Γ ≲ 1.5, where Γ is the power index at low masses) but requires a dark matter contribution of ≳25 per cent to reconcile the results with a Salpeter IMF. For a standard Milky Way-like IMF to be applicable, a significant dark matter contribution is required within 1Re. Our results reveal a large range of allowed IMF slopes, which, when interpreted as intrinsic scatter in the IMF properties of ETGs, could explain the recent results of Smith et al., who find Milky Way-like IMF normalizations in a few massive lensing ETGs.

Abstract

Systematic variations of the initial mass function (IMF) in early-type galaxies, and their connection with possible drivers such as velocity dispersion or metallicity, have been much debated in recent years. Strong lensing over galaxy scales combined with photometric and spectroscopic data provides a powerful method to constrain the stellar mass-to-light ratio and hence the functional form of the IMF. We combine photometric and spectroscopic constraints from the latest set of population synthesis models of Charlot & Bruzual, including a varying IMF, with a non-parametric analysis of the lens masses of 18 ETGs from the SLACS survey, with velocity dispersions in the range 200-300 km s-1. We find that very bottom-heavy IMFs are excluded. However, the upper limit to the bimodal IMF slope (μ ≲ 2.2, accounting for a dark matter fraction of 20-30 per cent, where μ = 1.3 corresponds to a Kroupa-like IMF) is compatible at the 1σ level with constraints imposed by gravity-sensitive line strengths. A two-segment power-law parametrization of the IMF (Salpeter-like for high masses) is more constrained (Γ ≲ 1.5, where Γ is the power index at low masses) but requires a dark matter contribution of ≳25 per cent to reconcile the results with a Salpeter IMF. For a standard Milky Way-like IMF to be applicable, a significant dark matter contribution is required within 1Re. Our results reveal a large range of allowed IMF slopes, which, when interpreted as intrinsic scatter in the IMF properties of ETGs, could explain the recent results of Smith et al., who find Milky Way-like IMF normalizations in a few massive lensing ETGs.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:04 Jan 2017 09:38
Last Modified:28 Apr 2017 06:11
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0035-8711
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stw885

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