On the origin and fate of ionised-gas in early-type galaxies: The SAURON perspective

Marc Sarzi*, Roland Bacon, Michele Cappellari, Roger L. Davies, Eric Emsellem, Jesús Falcón-Barroso, Davor Krajnović, Harald Kuntschner, Richard M. McDermid, Reynier F. Peletier, Tim de Zeeuw, Glenn van de Ven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


By detecting ionised-gas emission in 75% of the cases, the SAURON integral-field spectroscopic survey has further demonstrated that early-type galaxies often display nebular emission. Furthermore, the SAURON data have shown that such emission comes with an intriguing variety of morphologies, kinematic behaviours and line ratios. Perhaps most puzzling was the finding that round and slowly rotating objects generally display uncorrelated stellar and gaseous angular momenta, consistent with an external origin for the gas, whereas flatter and fast rotating galaxies host preferentially co-rotating gas and stars, suggesting internal production of gas. Alternatively, a bias against the internal production of ionised gas and against the acquisition of retrograde material may be present in these two kinds of objects, respectively. In light of the different content of hot gas in these systems, with slowly rotating objects being the only systems capable of hosting massive X-ray halos, we suggest that a varying importance of evaporation of warm gas in the hot interstellar medium can contribute to explain the difference in the relative behaviour of gas and stars in these two kinds of objects. Namely, whereas in X-ray bright and slowly rotating galaxies stellar-loss material would quickly evaporate in the hot medium, in X-ray faint and fast rotating objects such material would be allowed to lose angular momentum and settle in a disk, which could also obstruct the subsequent acquisition of retrograde gas. Evidence for a connection between warm and hot gas phases, presumably driven by heat conduction, is presented for four slowly rotating galaxies with Chandra observations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-23
Number of pages6
JournalNew Astronomy Reviews
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


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