The beginning of the end: Hubble space telescope images of Seyfert's Sextet

Christopher Palma, Stephanie G. Zonak, Sally D. Hunsberger, Jane C. Charlton, Sarah C. Gallagher, Patrick R. Durrell, Jayanne English

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Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 images of Hickson Compact Group (HCG) 79, Seyfert's Sextet, are presented. Both point sources and extended sources detected on the three wide-field chips were photometered in four filters: F336W, F439W, F555W, and F814W. Unlike other HCGs that have been imaged with HST, there do not appear to be any candidate young star clusters among the detected point sources. The majority of the point sources that may be star clusters associated with the Sextet have red colors consistent with stellar populations older than 1 Gyr. A similar conclusion is drawn with regard to the extended sources. The majority of these appear to be background galaxies, but a few candidate dwarf galaxies are identified as potentially associated with Seyfert's Sextet. However, no blue, star-forming objects similar to the tidal dwarf galaxy candidates identified in other HCGs are found among the extended objects identified in this study. A redshift for one dwarf galaxy candidate was measured from a spectrum obtained with the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, and this object was found to have a redshift similar to NGC 6027e, the discordant spiral formerly identified as a member of this compact group. The HST observations presented here and previous radio observations of the neutral gas content of this group suggest that the interactions that have taken place in the Sextet only redistributed the stars from the member galaxies within the group. We speculate that future interactions may be strong enough to strip the gas from NGC 6027d and trigger star-cluster formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2425-2439
Number of pages15
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5 1763
StatePublished - Nov 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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