The massive survey. I. A volume-limited integral-field spectroscopic study of the most massive early-type galaxies within 108 Mpc

Chung Pei Ma, Jenny E. Greene, Nicholas McConnell, Ryan Janish, John P. Blakeslee, Jens Thomas, Jeremy D. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


Massive early-type galaxies represent the modern day remnants of the earliest major star formation episodes in the history of the universe. These galaxies are central to our understanding of the evolution of cosmic structure, stellar populations, and supermassive black holes, but the details of their complex formation histories remain uncertain. To address this situation, we have initiated the MASSIVE Survey, a volume-limited, multi-wavelength, integral-field spectroscopic (IFS) and photometric survey of the structure and dynamics of the ∼100 most massive early-type galaxies within a distance of 108 Mpc. This survey probes a stellar mass range M∗ ≳ 1011.5 M and diverse galaxy environments that have not been systematically studied to date. Our wide-field IFS data cover about two effective radii of individual galaxies, and for a subset of them, we are acquiring additional IFS observations on sub-arcsecond scales with adaptive optics. We are also acquiring deep K-band imaging to trace the extended halos of the galaxies and measure accurate total magnitudes. Dynamical orbit modeling of the combined data will allow us to simultaneously determine the stellar, black hole, and dark matter halo masses. The primary goals of the project are to constrain the black hole scaling relations at high masses, investigate systematically the stellar initial mass function and dark matter distribution in massive galaxies, and probe the late-time assembly of ellipticals through stellar population and kinematical gradients. In this paper, we describe the MASSIVE sample selection, discuss the distinct demographics and structural and environmental properties of the selected galaxies, and provide an overview of our basic observational program, science goals and early survey results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number158
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 10 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • dark matter
  • galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • galaxies: stellar content
  • galaxies: structure


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