The MASSIVE survey – XVIII. Deep wide-field K-band photometry and local scaling relations for massive early-type galaxies

Matthew E. Quenneville, John P. Blakeslee, Chung Pei Ma, Jenny E. Greene, Stephen D.J. Gwyn, Stephanie Ciccone, Blanka Nyiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We present wide-field, deep K-band photometry of 98 luminous early-type galaxies (ETGs) from the MASSIVE survey based on observations taken with the WIRCam instrument on the Canada–France–Hawaii Telescope. Using these images, we extract accurate total K-band luminosities (LK) and half-light radii (Re) for this sample of galaxies. We use these new values to explore the size–luminosity and Faber–Jackson relations for massive ETGs. Within this volume-limited sample, we find clear evidence for curvature in both relations, indicating that the most luminous galaxies tend to have larger sizes and smaller velocity dispersions than expected from a simple power-law fit to less luminous galaxies. Our measured relations are qualitatively consistent with the most massive elliptical galaxies forming largely through dissipationless mergers. When the sample is separated into fast and slow rotators, we find the slow rotators to exhibit similar changes in slope with increasing LK, suggesting that low-mass and high-mass slow rotators have different formation histories. The curvatures in the Re–LK and σ–LK relations cancel, leading to a relation between dynamical mass and luminosity that is well described by a single power law: Reσ2 ∝ LKb with b ≈ 1.2. This is consistent with the tilt of the fundamental plane observed in lower mass elliptical galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-264
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxy: formation
  • galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • galaxies: photometry
  • techniques: image processing


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