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Published November 15, 1979 | Published
Journal Article Open

CCD photometry of the nuclei of three supergiant elliptical galaxies - Evidence for a supermassive object in the center of the radio galaxy NGC 6251


We have analyzed charged coupled device (CCD) photometry in the g and r bands of three supergiant elliptical galaxies: NGC 4874 and NGC 4889 in the Coma cluster, and the radio galaxy NGC 6251. The profiles of NGC 4874 and NGC 4889 are closely fitted by King models. The profile of NGC 6251 cannot be fitted by a King model, nor by a King model plus a central point luminosity source (the presence of which is suggested by a blue trend in the colors at small radii). The previously studied profile of M87, when convolved with an appropriate Gaussian function to allow for the difference in distance, closely resembles the profile of NGC 6251 (but not those of NGC 4874 or NGC 4889). NGC 6251 was successfully fitted with a luminosity profile containing both a point luminosity source and a central point mass. The value of this point mass cannot be determined without additional dynamical data. However, if the core velocity dispersion is similar to that of other giant ellipticals of the same absolute magnitude, the point mass is likely to be about 2.4 x 10^9 M_⊙, similar to the value reported earlier for M87. The data are also used to derive upper limits for possible central point masses in NGC 4874 and NGC 4889.

Additional Information

© 1979 American Astronomical Society. Received 1979 April 5; accepted 1979 June 5. Two of us (P.J.Y. and W.L.W.S.) are extremely grateful to the Director and staff of the Kitt Peak National Observatory for the opportunity to participate in the trials of the JPL CCD camera. We are especially grateful to Dr. Roger Lynds of Kitt Peak and to Greg Cozza of JPL for their considerable help with the observations. This work was supported by NSF grants AST 76-81089 to W.L.W.S. and AST 77-04182 to the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

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Published - 1979ApJ___234___76Y.pdf


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