Star clusters in the tidal tails of interacting galaxies: Cluster populations across a variety of tail environments

B. Mullan, I. S. Konstantopoulos, A. A. Kepley, K. H. Lee, Jane Camilla Charlton, K. Knierman, N. Bastian, R. Chandar, P. R. Durrell, D. Elmegreen, J. English, S. C. Gallagher, Caryl Ann Gronwall, J. E. Hibbard, S. Hunsberger, K. E. Johnson, A. Maybhate, C. Palma, G. Trancho, W. D. Vacca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

We have searched for compact stellar structures within 17 tidal tails in 13 different interacting galaxies using F606W- and F814W-band images from the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on the Hubble Space Telescope. The sample of tidal tails includes a diverse population of optical properties, merging galaxy mass ratios, H I content, and ages. Combining our tail sample with Knierman etal., we find evidence of star clusters formed in situ with MV < -8.5 and V - I < 2.0 in 10 of 23 tidal tails; we are able to identify cluster candidates to MV = -6.5 in the closest tails. Three tails offer clear examples of "beads on a string" star formation morphology in V - I color maps. Two tails present both tidal dwarf galaxy candidates and cluster candidates. Statistical diagnostics indicate that clusters in tidal tails may be drawn from the same power-law luminosity functions (with logarithmic slopes ≈-2 to -2.5) found in quiescent spiral galaxies and interiors of interacting systems. We find that the tail regions with the largest number of observable clusters are relatively young (≲250 Myr old) and bright (V ≲ 24 mag arcsec-2), probably attributed to the strong bursts of star formation in interacting systems soon after periapse. Otherwise, we find no statistical difference between cluster-rich and cluster-poor tails in terms of many observable characteristics, though this analysis suffers from complex, unresolved gas dynamics and projection effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number93
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume731
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 20 2011

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interacting galaxies
star clusters
optical property
power law
gas
star formation
stellar structure
gas dynamics
dwarf galaxies
spiral galaxies
Hubble Space Telescope
beads
mass ratios
luminosity
in situ
analysis
effect
young
bursts
strings

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Mullan, B. ; Konstantopoulos, I. S. ; Kepley, A. A. ; Lee, K. H. ; Charlton, Jane Camilla ; Knierman, K. ; Bastian, N. ; Chandar, R. ; Durrell, P. R. ; Elmegreen, D. ; English, J. ; Gallagher, S. C. ; Gronwall, Caryl Ann ; Hibbard, J. E. ; Hunsberger, S. ; Johnson, K. E. ; Maybhate, A. ; Palma, C. ; Trancho, G. ; Vacca, W. D. / Star clusters in the tidal tails of interacting galaxies : Cluster populations across a variety of tail environments. In: Astrophysical Journal. 2011 ; Vol. 731, No. 2.
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abstract = "We have searched for compact stellar structures within 17 tidal tails in 13 different interacting galaxies using F606W- and F814W-band images from the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on the Hubble Space Telescope. The sample of tidal tails includes a diverse population of optical properties, merging galaxy mass ratios, H I content, and ages. Combining our tail sample with Knierman etal., we find evidence of star clusters formed in situ with MV < -8.5 and V - I < 2.0 in 10 of 23 tidal tails; we are able to identify cluster candidates to MV = -6.5 in the closest tails. Three tails offer clear examples of {"}beads on a string{"} star formation morphology in V - I color maps. Two tails present both tidal dwarf galaxy candidates and cluster candidates. Statistical diagnostics indicate that clusters in tidal tails may be drawn from the same power-law luminosity functions (with logarithmic slopes ≈-2 to -2.5) found in quiescent spiral galaxies and interiors of interacting systems. We find that the tail regions with the largest number of observable clusters are relatively young (≲250 Myr old) and bright (V ≲ 24 mag arcsec-2), probably attributed to the strong bursts of star formation in interacting systems soon after periapse. Otherwise, we find no statistical difference between cluster-rich and cluster-poor tails in terms of many observable characteristics, though this analysis suffers from complex, unresolved gas dynamics and projection effects.",
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Mullan, B, Konstantopoulos, IS, Kepley, AA, Lee, KH, Charlton, JC, Knierman, K, Bastian, N, Chandar, R, Durrell, PR, Elmegreen, D, English, J, Gallagher, SC, Gronwall, CA, Hibbard, JE, Hunsberger, S, Johnson, KE, Maybhate, A, Palma, C, Trancho, G & Vacca, WD 2011, 'Star clusters in the tidal tails of interacting galaxies: Cluster populations across a variety of tail environments', Astrophysical Journal, vol. 731, no. 2, 93. https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/731/2/93

Star clusters in the tidal tails of interacting galaxies : Cluster populations across a variety of tail environments. / Mullan, B.; Konstantopoulos, I. S.; Kepley, A. A.; Lee, K. H.; Charlton, Jane Camilla; Knierman, K.; Bastian, N.; Chandar, R.; Durrell, P. R.; Elmegreen, D.; English, J.; Gallagher, S. C.; Gronwall, Caryl Ann; Hibbard, J. E.; Hunsberger, S.; Johnson, K. E.; Maybhate, A.; Palma, C.; Trancho, G.; Vacca, W. D.

In: Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 731, No. 2, 93, 20.04.2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Star clusters in the tidal tails of interacting galaxies

T2 - Cluster populations across a variety of tail environments

AU - Mullan, B.

AU - Konstantopoulos, I. S.

AU - Kepley, A. A.

AU - Lee, K. H.

AU - Charlton, Jane Camilla

AU - Knierman, K.

AU - Bastian, N.

AU - Chandar, R.

AU - Durrell, P. R.

AU - Elmegreen, D.

AU - English, J.

AU - Gallagher, S. C.

AU - Gronwall, Caryl Ann

AU - Hibbard, J. E.

AU - Hunsberger, S.

AU - Johnson, K. E.

AU - Maybhate, A.

AU - Palma, C.

AU - Trancho, G.

AU - Vacca, W. D.

PY - 2011/4/20

Y1 - 2011/4/20

N2 - We have searched for compact stellar structures within 17 tidal tails in 13 different interacting galaxies using F606W- and F814W-band images from the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on the Hubble Space Telescope. The sample of tidal tails includes a diverse population of optical properties, merging galaxy mass ratios, H I content, and ages. Combining our tail sample with Knierman etal., we find evidence of star clusters formed in situ with MV < -8.5 and V - I < 2.0 in 10 of 23 tidal tails; we are able to identify cluster candidates to MV = -6.5 in the closest tails. Three tails offer clear examples of "beads on a string" star formation morphology in V - I color maps. Two tails present both tidal dwarf galaxy candidates and cluster candidates. Statistical diagnostics indicate that clusters in tidal tails may be drawn from the same power-law luminosity functions (with logarithmic slopes ≈-2 to -2.5) found in quiescent spiral galaxies and interiors of interacting systems. We find that the tail regions with the largest number of observable clusters are relatively young (≲250 Myr old) and bright (V ≲ 24 mag arcsec-2), probably attributed to the strong bursts of star formation in interacting systems soon after periapse. Otherwise, we find no statistical difference between cluster-rich and cluster-poor tails in terms of many observable characteristics, though this analysis suffers from complex, unresolved gas dynamics and projection effects.

AB - We have searched for compact stellar structures within 17 tidal tails in 13 different interacting galaxies using F606W- and F814W-band images from the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 on the Hubble Space Telescope. The sample of tidal tails includes a diverse population of optical properties, merging galaxy mass ratios, H I content, and ages. Combining our tail sample with Knierman etal., we find evidence of star clusters formed in situ with MV < -8.5 and V - I < 2.0 in 10 of 23 tidal tails; we are able to identify cluster candidates to MV = -6.5 in the closest tails. Three tails offer clear examples of "beads on a string" star formation morphology in V - I color maps. Two tails present both tidal dwarf galaxy candidates and cluster candidates. Statistical diagnostics indicate that clusters in tidal tails may be drawn from the same power-law luminosity functions (with logarithmic slopes ≈-2 to -2.5) found in quiescent spiral galaxies and interiors of interacting systems. We find that the tail regions with the largest number of observable clusters are relatively young (≲250 Myr old) and bright (V ≲ 24 mag arcsec-2), probably attributed to the strong bursts of star formation in interacting systems soon after periapse. Otherwise, we find no statistical difference between cluster-rich and cluster-poor tails in terms of many observable characteristics, though this analysis suffers from complex, unresolved gas dynamics and projection effects.

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