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[*] Hubble Space Telescope evidence for an intermediate-mass black hole in the globular cluster M15 - I. STIS spectroscopy and WFPC2 photometry
van der Marel R.P., Gerssen J., Guhathakurta P., Peterson R., Gebhardt K.
AJ, 124, 3255-3269, 2002

[*] Citations to this paper in the ADS

In this series of two papers we describe a project with STIS on HST to measure the line-of-sight velocities of stars in the central few arcsec of the dense globular cluster M15. This first paper focuses on the observations and reduction of the data. We `scanned' the central region of M15 spectroscopically by consecutively placing an 0.1 arcsec slit at 18 adjacent positions. Careful and complicated data reduction and analysis were required. The spectral pixel size exceeds the velocity dispersion of M15, which puts the project at the limit of what is feasible with STIS. We applied corrections for the following effects: drifts in the STIS wavelength scale during an HST orbit; the orbital velocity component of HST along the line-of-sight to the cluster, and its variations during the HST orbit; and the apparent wavelength shift that is perceived for a star that is not centered in the slit. To make these corrections we present a detailed study of the HST/STIS point-spread function and line-spread function. We also present a catalog with positions and U, B and V magnitudes of 31,983 stars in M15, created from existing HST/WFPC2 data. We extract 19,200 one-dimensional spectra from the STIS data, each for a different position in M15, and each with a velocity scale accurate to better than 2.5 km/s. We develop an algorithm that co-adds the spectra for individual apertures and use it to extract spectra of individual stars with minimum blending and maximum S/N. In Paper II we use these spectra to extract the line-of-sight velocities of individual stars. The velocities constrain the central structure, dynamics and mass distribution of the cluster, and provide evidence for the existence of an intermediate-mass black hole in the center of the cluster.[ABRIDGED]

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Last modified November 29, 2002.
Roeland van der Marel, marel@stsci.edu.
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