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Very few ellipticals were detected in the IRAS survey. A higher success rate was achieved by Impey, Wynn-Williams, and Becklin (1986), who looked for 10 µm emission from a sample of 65 bright elliptical galaxies using a 5.5 arcsec beam on the IRTF. One third of the sample showed emission above that expected from pure photospheric emission, but this emission is more likely to arise from circumstellar shells around late-type giant stars than from regions of current star formation.

S0 galaxies are much more common in the IRAS catalog than are ellipticals. Devereux, Becklin, and Scoville (1986) found that 7 out of 34 S0 galaxies in the Virgo cluster were detected by IRAS. The 60 µm / 100 µm color temperatures of these galaxies are similar to those of normal spirals, which led Becklin (1986) to suggest that star formation may be the source of luminosity in these galaxies. However, their radio continuum emission (Hummel and Kotanyi 1982) appears to be lower than would be expected from an application of Helou, Soifer, and Rowan-Robinson's (1985) radio/infrared relation to the measured IRAS fluxes.