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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Dr Russell Smith

Smith, R.J., Lucey, J.R. & Conroy, C. (2015). The SINFONI Nearby Elliptical Lens Locator Survey: discovery of two new low-redshift strong lenses and implications for the initial mass function in giant early-type galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 449(4): 3441-3457.

Author(s) from Durham


We present results from a blind survey to identify strong gravitational lenses among the population of low-redshift early-type galaxies. The SINFONI Nearby Elliptical Lens Locator Survey (SNELLS) uses integral-field infrared spectroscopy to search for lensed emission line sources behind massive lens candidates at z < 0.055. From 27 galaxies observed, we have recovered one previously known lens (ESO 325−G004) at z = 0.034, and discovered two new systems, at z = 0.031 and 0.052. All three lens galaxies have high velocity dispersions (σ > 300 km s− 1) and α-element abundances ([Mg/Fe] > 0.3). From the lensing configurations we derive total J-band mass-to-light ratios of 1.8 ± 0.1, 2.1 ± 0.1 and 1.9 ± 0.2 within the ∼2 kpc Einstein radius. Correcting for estimated dark matter contributions, and comparing to stellar population models with a Milky Way (Kroupa) initial mass function (IMF), we determine the ‘mass excess factor’, α. Assuming the lens galaxies have ‘old’ stellar populations (10 ± 1 Gyr), the average IMF mass factor is 〈α〉 = 1.10 ± 0.08 ± 0.10, where the first error is random and the second is systematic. If we instead fit the stellar populations from 6dF optical survey spectra, all three galaxies are consistent with being old, but the age errors are 3–4 Gyr, due to limited signal-to-noise ratio. The IMF constraints are therefore looser in this case, with 〈α〉 = 1.23+0.16−0.13±0.10. Our results are thus consistent with a Kroupa IMF (α = 1.00) on average, and strongly reject very heavy IMFs with α ≳ 2. A Salpeter IMF (α = 1.55) is inconsistent at the 3.5σ level if the galaxies are old, but cannot be excluded using age constraints derived from the currently available optical spectra.