The SLUGGS survey: Outer triaxiality of the fast rotator elliptical NGC 4473

Caroline Foster*, Jacob A. Arnold, Duncan A. Forbes, Nicola Pastorello, Aaron J. Romanowsky, Lee R. Spitler, Jay Strader, Jean P. Brodie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Systematic surveys of nearby early-type galaxies using integral field unit (IFU) spectrograph data have revealed that galaxies can hide interesting structures only visible through kinematic studies. As part of their pioneering work, the ATLAS3D team have shown that most morphologically elliptical galaxies are centrally kinematically disc like. Hence, while global morphology suggests that ellipticals are ellipsoidal/triaxial in shape, their central kinematics may be consistent with (inclined) oblate systems. Here, we study the fast rotator elliptical galaxy: NGC 4473. Using slitlets, we obtain galaxy light kinematics out to unprecedentedly large galactocentric radii (2.5 effective radii). While we confirm the IFU results in the central regions, we find that at large galactocentric radii NGC 4473 exhibits a kinematic transition. In the outskirts, we observe clear minor and major axis rotation, a tell-tale sign of triaxiality, which agrees well with the galaxy's Hubble type. This outer 'kinematically distinct halo' may be expected from simulations of galaxy formation, and in this system contains around one-third of the stellar light. While this galaxy may be a special case, it suggests that further investigation of the outskirts of galaxies is needed to confirm the new paradigm of galaxy classification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3587-3591
Number of pages5
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


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