We present results from our Very Large Telescope large program to study the dynamical evolution of local ultraluminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs) and QSOs. This paper is the second in a series presenting the stellar kinematics of 54 ULIRGs, derived from high-resolution, long-slit H- and K-band spectroscopy. The data presented here, including observations of 17 new targets, are mainly focused on sources that have coalesced into a single nucleus. The stellar kinematics, extracted from the CO ro-vibrational band heads in our spectra, indicate that ULIRG remnants are dynamically heated systems with a mean dispersion of 161 km s-1. The combination of kinematic, structural, and photometric properties of the remnants indicate that they mostly originate from major mergers and that they result in the formation of systems supported by random motions, i.e., elliptical galaxies. The peak of the velocity dispersion distribution and the locus of ULIRGs on the fundamental plane of early-type galaxies indicate that the end products of ultraluminous mergers are typically moderate-mass ellipticals (of stellar mass ∼1010-1011 M⊙). Converting the host dispersion into black hole mass with the aid of the MBH-σ relation yields black hole mass estimates of the order 107-108 M⊙ and high accretion rates with Eddington efficiencies often >0.5.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- Galaxies: formation
- Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
- ISM: kinematics and dynamics
- Infrared: galaxies