Wednesday, July 31, 2013

1307.7767 (Karen Knierman et al.)

Tidal Tails of Minor Mergers II: Comparing Star Formation in the Tidal Tails of NGC 2782    [PDF]

Karen Knierman, Paul Scowen, Todd Veach, Christopher Groppi, Brendan Mullan, Iraklis Konstantopoulos, Patricia M. Knezek, Jane Charlton
The peculiar spiral NGC 2782 is the result of a minor merger with a mass ratio ~4:1 occurring ~200 Myr ago. This merger produced a molecular and HI rich, optically bright Eastern tail and an HI-rich, optically faint Western tail. Non-detection of CO in the Western Tail by Braine et al. (2001) suggested that star formation had not yet begun. However, deep UBVR and H-alpha narrowband images show evidence of recent star formation in the Western tail, though it lacks massive star clusters and cluster complexes. Using Herschel PACS spectroscopy, we discover 158 micron [CII] emission at the location of the three most luminous H-alpha sources in the Eastern tail, but not at the location of the even brighter H-alpha source in the Western tail. The Western tail is found to have a normal star formation efficiency (SFE), but the Eastern tail has a low SFE. The lack of CO and [CII] emission suggests the Western tail HII region may have a low carbon abundance and be undergoing its first star formation. The Western tail is more efficient at forming stars, but lacks massive clusters. We propose that the low SFE in the Eastern tail may be due to its formation as a splash region where gas heating is important even though it has sufficient molecular and neutral gas to make massive star clusters. The Western tail, which has lower gas surface density and does not form high mass star clusters, is a tidally formed region where gravitational compression likely enhances star formation.
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