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de Nicola, Stefano; Saglia, Roberto P.; Thomas, Jens; Dehnen, Walter and Bender, Ralf (2020): Non-parametric triaxial deprojection of elliptical galaxies. In: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 496, No. 3: pp. 3076-3100

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Abstract

We present a grid-based non-parametric approach to obtain a triaxial 3D luminosity density from its surface brightness distribution. Triaxial deprojection is highly degenerate and our approach illustrates the resulting difficulties. Fortunately, for massive elliptical galaxies, many deprojections for a particular line of sight (LOS) can be discarded, because their projection along other LOSs does not resemble elliptical galaxies. The near-elliptical isophotes of these objects imply near ellipsoidal intrinsic shapes. In fact, deprojection is unique for densities distributed on ellipsoidal shells. The constrained non-parametric deprojection method we present here relaxes this constraint and assumes that the contours of the luminosity density are boxy/discy ellipsoids with radially varying axis ratios. With this approach, we are able to reconstruct the intrinsic triaxial densities of our test models, including one drawn from an N-body simulation. The method also allows to compare the relative likelihood of deprojections at different viewing angles. We show that the viewing orientations of individual galaxies with nearly ellipsoidal isophotal shapes can be constrained from photometric data alone.

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