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For refcode 1995A&A...298..784G:
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Copyright by European Southern Observatory (ESO). Reproduced by permission
1995A&A...298..784G Interstellar matter in Shapley-Ames elliptical galaxies IV. A diffusely distributed component of dust and its effect on colour gradients P. Goudfrooij and T. de Jong European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, D-85748 Garching bei Munchen, Germany Astronomical Institute "Anton Pannekoek", University of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 403, NL-1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands Laboratory for Space Research, P.O. Box 800, NL-9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands Received 13 July 1994/Accepted 2 December 1994 Abstract. We have investigated IRAS far-infrared observations of a complete, blue magnitude limited sample of 56 elliptical galaxies selected from the Revised Shapley-Ames Catalog. Data from a homogeneous optical CCD imaging survey as well as published X-ray data from the EINSTEIN satellite are used to constrain the infrared data. Dust masses as determined from the IRAS flux densities are found to be roughly an order of magnitude higher than those determined from optical extinction values of dust lanes and patches, in strong contrast with the situation in spiral galaxies. This "mass discrepancy" is found to be independent of the (apparent) inclination of the dust lanes. To resolve this dilemma we postulate that the majority of the dust in elliptical galaxies exists as a diffusely distributed component of dust which is undetectable at optical wavelengths. Using observed radial optical surface brightness profiles, we have systematically investigated possible heating mechanisms for the dust within elliptical galaxies. We find that heating of the dust in elliptical galaxies by the interstellar radiation field is generally sufficient to account for the dust temperatures as indicated by the IRAS flux densities. Collisions of dust grains with hot electrons in elliptical galaxies which are embedded in a hot, X-ray-emitting gas is found to be another effective heating mechanism for the dust. Employing model calculations which involve the transfer of stellar radiation in a spherical distribution of stars mixed with a diffuse distribution of dust, we show that the observed infrared luminosities imply total dust optical depths of the postulated diffusely distributed dust component in the range 0.1 <~ T_V_ <~0.7 and radial colour gradients 0.03 <~ {DELTA}(B - I)/{DELTA} log r <~0.25. The observed IRAS flux densities can be reproduced within the 1 {sigma} uncertainties in virtually all ellipticals in this is sample by this newly postulated dust component, diffusely distributed over the inner few kpc of the galaxies, and heated by optical photons and/or hot electrons. The radial colour gradients implied by the diffuse dust component are found to be smaller than or equal to the observed colour gradients. Thus, we argue that the effect of dust extinction should be taken seriously in the interpretation of colour gradients in elliptical galaxies. We show that the amount of dust observed in luminous elliptical galaxies is generally higher than that expected from production by mass loss of stars within elliptical galaxies and destruction by sputtering in hot gas. This suggests that most of the dust in elliptical galaxies generally has an external origin. Key words: galaxies: (giant) elliptical - elliptical galaxies: colours, interstellar matter, structure
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