The global second parameter phenomenon and the origin of the ultraviolet radiation from elliptical galaxies

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The recent ultraviolet (UV) observations of elliptical galaxies are interpreted as evidence for the global second parameter phenomenon of horizontal-branch (HB) morphology within, as well as between, these galaxies. In this picture, the origin of the UV radiation is mostly due to hot HB stars and their post-HB progeny produced by the metal-poor tail of the wide metallicity distribution expected to be present in these systems. The attractive feature of this model is that the bimodal temperature distributions of HB stars (and their progeny), required to generate the 2000 Å dip of the spectral energy distribution, can naturally be reproduced from the standard HB population models with large range of metal abundance. If age is the major second parameter, as suggested by the fossil record in our Galaxy, the observed UV color gradient and the UV upturn-total mass (mean metallicity) correlation, within and between the early-type systems, would imply, respectively, (1) that most galaxies formed from the inside out, and (2) that there is age spread among galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L113-L116
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 2
Publication statusPublished - 1994 Aug 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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