Volume 538, February 2012
|Number of page(s)||19|
|Published online||02 February 2012|
Extranuclear Hα-emitting complexes in low-z (U)LIRGs: precursors of tidal dwarf galaxies?
Departamento de Astrofísica, Centro de Astrobiología, CSIC-INTA,
Torrejón Ajalvir km 4, Torrejón de Ardoz
Received: 7 June 2011
Accepted: 4 October 2011
This paper characterizes the physical and kinematic properties of external massive star-forming regions in a sample of (U)LIRGs. We use high angular resolution ACS images from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in F435W (~B) and F814W (~I) bands, as well as Hα -line emission maps obtained with integral field spectroscopy. We find 31 external Hα -emitting (i.e., young star-forming) complexes in 11 (U)LIRGs. These complexes have in general similar sizes (from few hundreds of pc to about 2 kpc), luminosities (MF435W < –10.65 and L(Hα) > 1039 L⊙ ), and metallicities (12 + log (O/H) ~ 8.5–8.7) to extragalactic giant HII regions and TDG candidates found in less luminous mergers and compact groups of galaxies. We assess the mass content and the likelihood of survival as TDGs of the 22 complexes with simple structures in the HST images based on their photometric, structural, and kinematic properties. The dynamical tracers used (radius-σ and luminosity-σ diagrams) indicate that most of the complexes might be self-gravitating entities. The resistance to forces from the parent galaxy is studied by considering the tidal mass of the candidate and its relative velocity with respect to the parent galaxy. After combining the results of previous studies of TDG searches in ULIRGs a total of 9 complexes satisfy most of the applied criteria and thus show a high-medium or high likelihood of survival, their total mass likely being compatible with that of dwarf galaxies. They are defined as TDG candidates. We propose that they probably formed more often during the early phases of the interaction. Combining all data for complexes with IFS data where a significant fraction of the system is covered, we infer a TDG production rate of 0.3 candidates with the highest probabilities of survival per system for the (U)LIRGs class. This rate, though, might decrease to 0.1 after the systems in (U)LIRGs have evolved for 10 Gyr, for long-lived TDGs , which would imply that no more than 5–10% of the overall dwarf population could be of tidal origin.
Key words: galaxies: interactions / galaxies: dwarf / galaxies: formation / galaxies: evolution / methods: observational
© ESO, 2012
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