Arp 116: interacting system or chance alignment?
Department of Physics & Astronomy, The University of Sheffield, Hicks Building, Hounsfield Road, Sheffield S3 7RH, UK e-mail: R.deGrijs@sheffield.ac.uk
Accepted: 25 September 2006
Using high spatial resolution Hubble Space Telescope/Advanced Camera for Surveys archival imaging observations of Arp 116, centred on the elliptical galaxy NGC 4649, we explore the novel technique of pixel-by-pixel analysis of the galaxy's colour–magnitude diagram to search for any evidence of recent enhanced star formation due to the apparent tidal interaction with its spiral companion, NGC 4647. From a detailed analysis of the system's geometry, and based on additional circumstantial evidence from extant multi-wavelength observations, we conclude that, while there may be grounds for the tidal-interaction assumption for this system, any interaction has thus far been of insufficient strength to trigger an enhanced level of recent star formation in the elliptical component, although close inspection of our colour images shows a faint excess of bluer pixels (a ~0.20 mag bluer “loop”) in the elliptical galaxy on the side of the spiral companion. Given that there appears to be a moderate reservoir of available gas for ongoing star formation (although at low column density), this suggests that we are currently witnessing the onset of the tidal interaction between NGC 4647 and NGC 4649. In addition, the triggering of new star formation in NGC 4649 may be significantly impeded due to the much lower mass of the spiral component.
Key words: galaxies: individual: Arp 116 / galaxies: individual: NGC 4647 / galaxies: individual: NGC 4649 / galaxies: interactions / galaxies: photometry / galaxies: stellar content
© ESO, 2006