The cycle of metals in the infalling elliptical galaxy NGC 1404

F. Mernier, N. Werner, Y. Su, C. Pinto, R. Grossová, A. Simionescu, E. Iodice, M. Sarzi, A. Görgei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Hot atmospheres pervading galaxy clusters, groups, and early-type galaxies are rich in metals, produced during epochs and diffused via processes that are still to be determined. While this enrichment has been routinely investigated in clusters, metals in lower mass systems are more challenging to probe with standard X-ray exposures and spectroscopy. In this paper, we focus on very deep XMM-Newton (∼350 ks) observations of NGC 1404, a massive elliptical galaxy experiencing ram-pressure stripping of its hot atmosphere while infalling towards the centre of the Fornax cluster, with the aim to derive abundances through its hot gas extent. Importantly, we report the existence of a new fitting bias - the 'double Fe bias' - leading to an underestimate of the Fe abundance when two thermal components cannot realistically model the complex temperature structure present in the outer atmosphere of the galaxy. Contrasting with the 'metal conundrum' seen in clusters, the Fe and Mg masses of NGC 1404 are measured 1-2 orders of magnitude below what stars and supernovae could have reasonably produced and released. In addition, we note the remarkable Solar abundance ratios of the galaxy's halo, different from its stellar counterpart but similar to the chemical composition of the ICM of rich clusters. Completing the clusters regime, all these findings provide additional support towards a scenario of early enrichment, at play over two orders of magnitude in mass. A few peculiar and intriguing features, such as a possible double metal peak as well as an apparent ring of enhanced Si near the galaxy core, are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3159-3178
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society.


  • X-rays: galaxies: clusters
  • galaxies: ISM
  • galaxies: abundances
  • galaxies: clusters: intracluster medium
  • supernovae: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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