Revealing the nature of star forming blue early-type galaxies at low redshift ⋆
1 Indian Institute of Astrophysics, 2nd Block, Koramangala, 560034 Bangalore, India
2 Indian Institute of Technology Madras, IIT PO, 600 036 Chennai, India
Received: 18 August 2014
Accepted: 21 September 2015
Context. Star forming early-type galaxies with blue optical colours at low redshift can be used to test our current understanding of galaxy formation and evolution.
Aims. We want to reveal the fuel and triggering mechanism for star formation in these otherwise passively evolving red and dead stellar systems.
Methods. We undertook an optical and ultraviolet study of 55 star forming blue early-type galaxies, searching for signatures of recent interactions that could be driving the molecular gas into the galaxy and potentially triggering the star formation.
Results. We report here our results on star forming blue early-type galaxies with tidal trails and in close proximity to neighbouring galaxies that are evidence of ongoing or recent interactions between galaxies. There are 12 galaxies with close companions with similar redshifts, among which two galaxies are having ongoing interactions that potentially trigger the star formation. Two galaxies show a jet feature that could be due to the complete tidal disruption of the companion galaxy. The interacting galaxies have high star formation rates and very blue optical colours. Galaxies with no companion could have undergone a minor merger in the recent past.
Conclusions. The recent or ongoing interaction with a gas-rich neighbouring galaxy could be responsible for bringing cold gas to an otherwise passively evolving early-type galaxy. The sudden gas supply could trigger the star formation, eventually creating a blue early-type galaxy. The galaxies with ongoing tidal interaction are blue and star forming, thereby implying that blue early-type galaxies can exist even when the companion is on flyby so does not end up in a merger.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD / galaxies: interactions / galaxies: star formation
Based on data compiled from Galaxy Zoo project, and the volunteers contribution are acknowledged at http://www.galaxyzoo.org/Volunteers.aspx
© ESO, 2015