Spavone, Marilena (2010) Multiwavelength study of interacting and peculiar galaxies. [Tesi di dottorato] (Unpublished)

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Item Type: Tesi di dottorato
Uncontrolled Keywords: Galaxy formation, galaxy interaction, galaxy formation
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2010 16:54
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2014 19:45
URI: http://www.fedoa.unina.it/id/eprint/8239

Abstract

I present a multiwavelength study of a sample of peculiar galaxies in order to constraint the physics of interacting objects, to study how the physical processes affect the structure of galaxies, and to derive some hints on the formation and evolution history of such galaxies. One of the major open issues in modern cosmology is to understand how galaxies formed and evolved. Its likely that the formation of galaxies was dominated by two processes: the assembly of luminous and dark matter through accretion and merger, and the conversion of baryonic and non-baryonic matter into stars. This is the reason why the study of galaxy interactions has received an increasing attention both on the observational and the theoretical sides. Several theoretical works based on numerical simulations, have tested different plausible scenarios for the origin of peculiar galaxies, such as ``Tidal accretion'', ``Cold accretion'' and ``Merging''. For this reason, the sample of galaxies to use was selected in order to reproduce all these mechanisms. The first peculiar object that I studied is the minor axis dust lane galaxy NGC1947. I performed a detailed study of the main properties of this galaxy (Spavone et al 2009). In NGC1947 are present components with different angular momentum, infact gas and dust rotate along the minor axis while stars rotate along the major one. This is a clear evidence that it cannot be the result of a single protogalactic cloud collapse, but rather the result of an interaction event. I performed a detailed study of the main properties of this galaxy and compared them with the prediction of simulations. Putting together all this evidences it was difficult to disentangle in a non ambiguous way the two possible scenarios, even though some aspects can help us in understanding. First of all, the galaxy does not present clear signs of interaction, such as tidal tails and so on, and this leads to the conclusion that the merger occurred about 10 Gyrs ago, a fact which is not consistent with the fact that, according to my estimate, the last burst of star formation occurred 1 Gyr ago. So I can say that the accretion scenario is favoured. The second object in my sample is the Polar Ring Galaxy (PRG) NGC4650A. I used high resolution NIR and optical spectroscopy along the North and South side of the polar disk, to measure the metallicity of the HII regions in the polar disk of this galaxy because, if it formed from the accretion of external cold gas from cosmic web filaments, we expect metallicities similar to those of late type galaxies, while if the metallicities are similar to those of early type galaxies, the accretion from a gas rich donor is favoured. I estimated the metallicity by using both direct and empirical methods, the Stellar Formation Rate (SFR), and the metallicity gradient along the disk. The average metallicity for the polar disk of NGC4650A turned out to be $Z = 0.2 Z_{\odot}$, which is lower than the typical values found in spiral galaxies, and is instead consistent with the metallicities predicted for the formation of disks by cold accretion processes ($Z \sim\ 1/10 Z_{\odot}$), due to the accretion of pristine gas in the cold streams. Moreover, also the absence of any metallicity gradient is consistent with the infall of metal-poor gas from outside which is still forming the disk (see Spavone et al 2010 for details). As a follow up of this work, I obtained observing time at the TNG telescope to observe the PRGs UGC7576 and UGC9796. I performed the study of the chemical abundances also for these galaxies in order to constrain their formation history (Spavone et al. submitted). Both PRGs have metallicities (respectively 0.4 $Z_{\odot}$ and 0.1 $Z_{\odot}$) lower than that observed in spiral galaxies of the same total luminosity and, given their present star formation rate, this values is again consistent with the predictions of the cold accretion mechanism for disk formation. UGC7576 is an isolated galaxy and the absence of close companions led to exclude both the tidal accretion from a donor galaxy and the merging with another galaxy. UGC9796 is instead in a group and has 5 close companions with an amount of HI gas comparable with that of UGC9796. The merging scenario is however ruled out because in order to produce a massive polar disk such as those observed in UGC9796 is required a merging with high mass ratios (7:1 or 10:1) and this would destroy the ordered motion of the central galaxy, transforming it into an elliptical-like, not rotationally supported galaxy. In conclusion, for this object, both the tidal accretion and the cold accretion seem to be plausible scenarios. Finally, to analyze also another type of merging process, I am studying the pair of interacting galaxies known as CSL-1. By using high resolution spectroscopy (FORS1@VLT) and imaging (HST) I am studying the morphology, light distribution and structural parameters of this system, to test the dry-merger scenario (cf. ``A prototype dry-merger caught in the act'', M. Paolillo , G. Covone, C. Nipoti, M. Spavone, M. Capaccioli, G. Longo, A.Cimatti, L. Ciotti, in preparation). In order to investigate also the minor merging processes I also studied the photometric and kinematical properties of a compact group of galaxies belonging to the Hickson's catalogue. The group analyzed in this work was HCG62, one of the nearest group in the celestial Southern hemisphere, which was selected by cross correlating the available X-ray and optical data. Galaxies in compact groups are in a very dense configuration in the sky, having a mean separation comparable with their dimensions and a very low velocity dispersion. Taking into account that theories on formation and evolution of galaxies predict that the intensity and frequency of interactions strongly depend on the density of the environment, compact groups may be considered the ideal place where to test interaction processes, such as dynamical friction, tidal interaction, collisions, merging and so on. The main goal of this part of my work was to derive some hints on the formation and evolutionary history of compact groups, in order to address the possible scenario for the formation of structure in the Universe, and to determine the evolutionary status of the studied objects. To this aim, I performed a detailed study of the kinematical properties of HCG62, that revealed the presence of many peculiarities in the dominant galaxy of the group, NGC4778, such as the presence of a kinematically decoupled and counter-rotating core (KDC), or kinematical profiles strongly perturbed, also in the outer regions of this galaxy. Moreover, I also performed an analysis of the photometric properties of the whole group, to look for correlations between kinematical and photometric peculiarities. The absence of such correlations in HCG62, can be explained by stating that weak interactions do not perturb the rotation curves but produce morphological deformations in the outer regions, while the so called minor mergers perturb the rotation curves in the inner regions, without producing morphological peculiarities. The results obtained in this work are in good agreement with similar studies performed on the same group and with its observed X-ray properties (Spavone et al 2006). I was also Co-Investigator in two accepted proposals to observe, with the TNG telescope, a sample of Shakhbazian galaxy groups, with the aim of building a larger statistical sample and obtain redshift informations which are lacking for most Shakhbazian groups, and are needed to establish on firm grounds their physical nature. Groups of galaxies have been extensively studied in the past decades. Despite this effort, their evolution is yet not well understood. Loose groups are almost certainly still collapsing and are therefore crucial to uncover the formation processes shaping cosmic structures. As it was already mentioned, in compact groups a few member galaxies are compressed in a small volume of space with low relative velocities. Early theoretical studies suggested that in such high density environments the low velocity dispersion of compact galaxy groups would favor strong interactions and mergers, leading to rapid evolution (within $\sim 10^9$ yrs) into a single massive merger remnant. The best studied sample of compact groups to date is the one included in the Hickson catalogue; this sample however, is biased towards extremely high values of matter density and therefore it allows to investigate only the ``close-to-final'' stage of the complex dynamical evolution of groups. The density range bridging the field to these almost coalesced structures is still poorly explored, mainly due to the difficulties encountered in constructing reliable samples of `physically bound', low multiplicity groups. Shakhbazian Groups of galaxies (SHKGs) in spite of having been originally selected as ``compact groups of compact galaxies'', have been shown to sample a large range of spatial densities. To properly characterize the properties of these groups and their evolutionary path, I obtained more accurate redshift determination for a sample of 10 SHK, so almost doubling the sample of SHK groups, with detailed spectroscopic data. Main goals of this work are: i) obtain redshift estimates for groups without literature data, sampling the different sub-populations; ii) confirm the galaxy membership of the groups, which is currently based on photometric estimates for most of the objects; iii) study the dynamical status of the group and derive dynamical mass estimates; iv) study the stellar population of the member galaxies through comparison with population synthesis models, and the degree of activity from emission line measurements.

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