We present fully nonparametric estimates of the frequency function of elliptical galaxy intrinsic shapes under the axisymmetric and triaxial hypotheses. If ellliptical galaxies are assumed to be oblate or prolate, the frequency function of intrinsic shapes is negative for axis ratios near unity due to the lack of apparently round galaxies. Both axisymmetric hypotheses are found to be inconsistent at the 99% level with the data. Triaxial intrinsic shapes are fully consistent with the data; a number of possible triaxial frequency functions are presented, some of which exhibit strong bimodality. We also compute the "maximum entropy" distribution of intrinsic shapes under the triaxial hypothesis.

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Also archived in: astro-ph/9510111 20 Oct 1995 We thank B. Ryden for helpful discussions and for lending us the data set on which this paperwas based. This work was supported by NSF grants AST90-165 and 93-1867 and by NASA grant NAG5.ISSN:1538-3881 Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


RIT – Main Campus