A new method for the identification of non-Gaussian line profiles in elliptical galaxies

van der Marel, R.P. & Franx, M. 1993, Ap. J. 407, 525.

A new parameterization for the line profiles of elliptical galaxies, the Gauss-Hermite series, is proposed. This approach expands the line profile as a sum of orthogonal functions which minimizes the correlations between the errors in the parameters of the fit. This method also make use of the fact that Gaussians provide good low-order fits to observed line profiles. The method yields measurements of the line strength, mean radial velocity, and the velocity dispersion as well as two extra parameters, h3 and h4, that measure asymmetric and symmetric deviations of the line profiles from a Gaussian, respectively. The new method was used to derive profiles for three elliptical galaxies which all have asymmetric line profiles on the major axis with symmetric deviations from a Gaussian. Results confirm that elliptical galaxies have complex structures due to their complex formation history.