Investigating the merger origin of early-type galaxies using ultra-deep optical images

P. A. Duc, J. C. Cuillandre, K. Alatalo, L. Blitz, M. Bois, F. Bournaud, M. Bureau, M. Cappellari, P. Côté, R. L. Davies, T. A. Davis, P. T. De Zeeuw, E. Emsellem, L. Ferrarese, E. Ferriere, S. Gwyn, S. Khochfar, D. Krajnovic, H. Kuntschner, P. Y. LablancheL. MacArthur, R. M. McDermid, L. Michel-Dansac, R. Morganti, T. Naab, T. Oosterloo, M. Sarzi, N. Scott, P. Serra, A. Weijmans, L. M. Young

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The mass assembly of galaxies leaves various imprints on their surroundings, such as shells, streams and tidal tails. The frequency and properties of these fine structures depend on the mechanism driving the mass assembly: e.g. a monolithic collapse, rapid cold-gas accretion followed by violent disk instabilities, minor mergers or major dry/wet mergers. Therefore, by studying the outskirts of galaxies, one can learn about their main formation mechanism. I present here our on-going work to characterize the outskirts of Early-Type Galaxies (ETGs), which are powerful probes at low redshift of the hierarchical mass assembly of galaxies. This work relies on ultra-deep optical images obtained at CFHT with the wide-field of view MegaCam camera of field and cluster ETGs obtained as part of the ATLAS3D and NGVS projects. State of the art numerical simulations are used to interpret the data. The images reveal a wealth of unknown faint structures at levels as faint as 29 mag arcsec-2 in the g-band. Initial results for two galaxies are presented here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTracing the Ancestry of Galaxies
Subtitle of host publicationOn the Land of our Ancestors
EditorsClaude Carignan, Claude Carignan, Francoise Combes, Ken Freeman
Number of pages4
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
ISSN (Print)1743-9213
ISSN (Electronic)1743-9221

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • cD
  • galaxies: elliptical and lenticular
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: formation
  • galaxies: interactions


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