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Astron. Astrophys. 361, 465-479 (2000)

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Based on observations with the JKT, INT and WHT operated on the island of La Palma by the Royal Greenwich Observatory in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto Astrofísico de Canarias. Based also on observations collected at the German-Spanish Astronomical Center, Calar Alto, Spain, operated by the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA), Heidelberg, jointly with the spanish `Comisión Nacional de Astronomía'. This research has made use of the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED) which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

We are grateful to Carme Jordi and D. Galadí for obtaining the V-band image. We would like to thank C. Sánchez Contreras and L.F. Miranda for obtaining the high resolution spectra. We also thank A. Alonso-Herrero for her help in the acquisition and reduction of the near-infrared images. We also acknowledge the referee Dr. Tosi for several helpful comments. We thank to C.E. García Dabó, J. Cenarro, M.E. Sharina, S.A. Silich and J. Gorgas for stimulating conversations. Finally, we are very grateful to R. Giovanelli for his kind help on analyzing the properties of UGC 4278. This research has been supported in part by the grants PB93-456 and PB96-0610 from the Spanish `Programa Sectorial de Promoción del Conocimiento'. A. Gil de Paz acknowledges the receipt of a `Formación del Profesorado Universitario' fellowship from the spanish `Ministerio de Educación y Cultura'.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: October 2, 2000