skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Friday, April 12 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, April 13 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Galaxy interactions in IllustrisTNG-100, I: The power and limitations of visual identification

We present a sample of 446 galaxy pairs constructed using the cosmological simulation IllustrisTNG-100 at z = 0, with M$_{\rm FoF,dm} = 10^{11}\!-\!10^{13.5}$ M⊙. We produce ideal mock SDSS g-band images of all pairs to test the reliability of visual classification schema employed to produce samples of interacting galaxies. We visually classify each image as interacting or not based on the presence of a close neighbour, the presence of stellar debris fields, disturbed discs, and/or tidal features. By inspecting the trajectories of the pairs, we determine that these indicators correctly identify interacting galaxies ∼45 per cent of the time. We subsequently split the sample into the visually identified interacting pairs (VIP; 38 pairs) and those which are interacting but are not visually identified (nonVIP; 47 pairs). We find that VIP have undergone a close passage nearly twice as recently as the non-VIP, and typically have higher stellar masses. Further, the VIP sit in dark matter haloes that are approximately 2.5 times as massive, in environments nearly 2 times as dense, and are almost a factor of 10 more affected by the tidal forces of their surroundings than the nonVIP. These factors conspire to increase the observability of tidal features and disturbed morphologies, making the VIP more likely to be identified. Thus, merger rate calculations which rely on stellar morphologies are likely to be significantly biased toward massive galaxy pairs which have recently undergone a close passage.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
1814053 1814259
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 2075-2094
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    We present visual classifications of merger-induced tidal disturbances in 143M*∼ 1011Mpost-starburst galaxies atz∼ 0.7 identified in theSQuIGGLESample. This sample spectroscopically selects galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey that have stopped their primary epoch of star formation within the past ∼500 Myr. Visual classifications are performed on Hyper Suprime-Cam imaging. We compare to a control sample of mass- and redshift-matched star-forming and quiescent galaxies from the Large Early Galaxy Census and find that post-starburst galaxies are more likely to be classified as disturbed than either category. This corresponds to a factor of3.61.3+2.9times the disturbance rate of older quiescent galaxies and2.1.73+1.9times the disturbance rate of star-forming galaxies. Assuming tidal features persist for ≲500 Myr, this suggests merging is coincident with quenching in a significant fraction of these post-starbursts. Galaxies with tidal disturbances are younger on average than undisturbed post-starburst galaxies in our sample, suggesting tidal features from a major merger may have faded over time. This may be exacerbated by the fact that, on average, the undisturbed subset is fainter, rendering low-surface-brightness tidal features harder to identify. However, the presence of 10 young (≲150 Myr since quenching) undisturbed galaxies suggests that major mergers are not the only fast physical mechanism that shut down the primary epoch of star formation in massive galaxies at intermediate redshift.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract We compare the radial profiles of the specific star formation rate (sSFR) in a sample of 169 star-forming galaxies in close pairs with those of mass-matched control galaxies in the SDSS-IV MaNGA survey. We find that the sSFR is centrally enhanced (within one effective radius) in interacting galaxies by ∼0.3 dex and that there is a weak sSFR suppression in the outskirts of the galaxies of ∼0.1 dex. We stack the difference profiles for galaxies in five stellar-mass bins in the range log( M / M ⊙ ) = 9.0–11.5 and find that the sSFR enhancement has no dependence on the stellar mass. The same result is obtained when comparison galaxies are matched to each paired galaxy in both stellar mass and redshift. In addition, we find that the sSFR enhancement is elevated in pairs with nearly equal masses and closer projected separations, in agreement with previous work based on single-fiber spectroscopy. We also find that the sSFR offsets in the outskirts of the paired galaxies are dependent on whether the galaxy is the more-massive or less-massive companion in the pair. The more-massive companion experiences zero to a positive sSFR enhancement, while the less-massive companion experiences sSFR suppression in their outskirts. Our results illustrate the complex tidal effects on star formation in closely paired galaxies. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The formation of ultra diffuse satellite galaxies (UDSGs) within Λ CDM cosmology is a key area of study in theoretical galaxy formation because current models struggle to produce low-mass galaxies with a wide variety of morphologies. We identified 16 UDSGs around 8 Milky Way-mass hosts in the FIRE-2 simulations based on their large sizes in comparison to typical satellites. We selected an analogue of the observed Milky Way UDSG Antlia II in the stellar mass range 106−6.5Mfor further study. The analogue likely underwent a tidal shock near its first pericenter passage as it came within <10 kpc of its host. The analogue galaxy subsequently experienced significant tidal stripping of its dark matter and puffing up of its stellar distribution, causing it to transform into an UDSG.

    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    We present ALMA observations of a merging system at z  ∼ 4.57, observed as a part of the ALMA Large Program to INvestigate [CII] at Early times (ALPINE) survey. Combining ALMA [CII]158  μ m and far-infrared continuum data with multi-wavelength ancillary data, we find that the system is composed of two massive ( M ⋆  ≳ 10 10   M ⊙ ) star-forming galaxies experiencing a major merger (stellar mass ratio r mass  ≳ 0.9) at close spatial (∼13 kpc; projected) and velocity (Δ v  <  300 km s −1 ) separations, and two additional faint narrow [CII]-emitting satellites. The overall system belongs to a larger scale protocluster environment and is coincident to one of its overdensity peaks. Additionally, ALMA reveals the presence of [CII] emission arising from a circumgalactic gas structure, extending up to a diameter-scale of ∼30 kpc. Our morpho-spectral decomposition analysis shows that about 50% of the total flux resides between the individual galaxy components, in a metal-enriched gaseous envelope characterised by a disturbed morphology and complex kinematics. Similarly to observations of shock-excited [CII] emitted from tidal tails in local groups, our results can be interpreted as a possible signature of interstellar gas stripped by strong gravitational interactions, with a possible contribution from material ejected by galactic outflows and emission triggered by star formation in small faint satellites. Our findings suggest that mergers could be an efficient mechanism of gas mixing in the circumgalactic medium around high- z galaxies, and thus play a key role in the galaxy baryon cycle at early epochs. 
    more » « less

    Slow rotator galaxies are distinct amongst galaxy populations, with simulations suggesting that a mix of minor and major mergers are responsible for their formation. A promising path to resolve outstanding questions on the type of merger responsible, is by investigating deep imaging of massive galaxies for signs of potential merger remnants. We utilize deep imaging from the Subaru-Hyper Suprime Cam Wide data to search for tidal features in massive [log10(M*/M⊙) > 10] early-type galaxies (ETGs) in the SAMI Galaxy Survey. We perform a visual check for tidal features on images where the galaxy has been subtracted using a Multi-Gauss Expansion (MGE) model. We find that 31$^{+2}_{-2}$ per cent of our sample show tidal features. When comparing galaxies with and without features, we find that the distributions in stellar mass, light-weighted mean stellar population age, and H${\alpha}$ equivalent width are significantly different, whereas spin ($\lambda _{R_{\rm {e}}}$), ellipticity, and bulge-to-total ratio have similar distributions. When splitting our sample in age, we find that galaxies below the median age (10.8 Gyr) show a correlation between the presence of shells and lower $\lambda _{R_{\rm {e}}}$, as expected from simulations. We also find these younger galaxies which are classified as having ‘strong’ shells have lower $\lambda _{R_{\rm {e}}}$. However, simulations suggest that merger features become undetectable within ∼2–4 Gyr post-merger. This implies that the relationship between tidal features and merger history disappears for galaxies with older stellar ages, i.e. those that are more likely to have merged long ago.

    more » « less