Volume 631, November 2019
|Number of page(s)||19|
|Published online||21 October 2019|
Effect of galaxy mergers on star-formation rates
SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Landleven 12, 9747 AD Groningen, The Netherlands
2 Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, Postbus 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
3 Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics, New York University, 726 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, USA
4 Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, Twelve Quays House, Egerton Wharf, Birkenhead CH41 1LD, UK
5 Center for Theoretical Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Al. Lotników 32/46, 02-668 Warsaw, Poland
6 School of Physics and Astronomy, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia
7 Netherlands eScience Center, Science Park 140, 1098 XG Amsterdam, The Netherlands
8 Department of Physics and Astronomy, 102 Natural Science Building, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, USA
9 Mullard Space Science Laboratory, Dorking, RH5 6NT, UK
10 European Space Agency, ESTEC, Keplerlaan 1, 2201 AZ Noordwijk, The Netherlands
Accepted: 27 August 2019
Context. Galaxy mergers and interactions are an integral part of our basic understanding of how galaxies grow and evolve over time. However, the effect that galaxy mergers have on star-formation rates (SFRs) is contested, with observations of galaxy mergers showing reduced, enhanced, and highly enhanced star formation.
Aims. We aim to determine the effect of galaxy mergers on the SFR of galaxies using statistically large samples of galaxies, totalling over 200 000, which is over a large redshift range from 0.0 to 4.0.
Methods. We trained and used convolutional neural networks to create binary merger identifications (merger or non-merger) in the SDSS, KiDS, and CANDELS imaging surveys. We then compared the SFR, with the galaxy main sequence subtracted, of the merging and non-merging galaxies to determine what effect, if any, a galaxy merger has on SFR.
Results. We find that the SFR of merging galaxies are not significantly different from the SFR of non-merging systems. The changes in the average SFR seen in the star-forming population when a galaxy is merging are small, of the order of a factor of 1.2. However, the higher the SFR is above the galaxy main sequence, the higher the fraction is for galaxy mergers.
Conclusions. Galaxy mergers have little effect on the SFR of the majority of merging galaxies compared to the non-merging galaxies. The typical change in SFR is less than 0.1 dex in either direction. Larger changes in SFR can be seen but are less common. The increase in merger fraction as the distance above the galaxy main sequence increases demonstrates that galaxy mergers can induce starbursts.
Key words: galaxies: interactions / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: star formation / galaxies: starburst / methods: numerical
© ESO 2019
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