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The NGC 7771+NGC 7770 minor merger: harassing the little one?
Alonso-Herrero, Almudena; Rosales-Ortega, F. Fabián.; Sánchez, Sebastián. F.; Kennicutt, Robert C.; Pereira-Santaella, Miguel; Díaz, Ángeles I.
AA(Instituto de Física de Cantabria, CSIC-UC, 39005 Santander, Spain), AB(Departamento de Física Teórica, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain; Centro Astronómico Hispano Alemán Calar Alto, CSIC-MPG, 04004 Almería, Spain), AC(Centro Astronómico Hispano Alemán Calar Alto, CSIC-MPG, 04004 Almería, Spain; Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, CSIC, 18080 Granada, Spain), AD(Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 0HA), AE(Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, INAF-IAPS, 00133 Rome, Italy), AF(Departamento de Física Teórica, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain)
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, Volume 425, Issue 1, pp. L46-L50. (MNRAS Homepage)
Publication Date:
Astronomy Keywords:
galaxies: evolution, galaxies: individual: NGC 7770, galaxies: individual: NGC 7771, galaxies: nuclei, galaxies: structure, infrared: galaxies
Abstract Copyright:
© 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS
Bibliographic Code:


Numerical simulations of minor mergers, typically having mass ratios greater than 3:1, predict little enhancement in the global star formation activity. However, these models also predict that the satellite galaxy is more susceptible to the effects of the interaction than the primary. We use optical integral field spectroscopy and deep optical imaging to study the NGC 7771+NGC 7770 interacting system (˜10:1 stellar mass ratio) to test these predictions. We find that the satellite galaxy NGC 7770 is currently experiencing a galaxy-wide starburst with most of the optical light being from young and post-starburst stellar populations (<1 Gyr). This galaxy lies off the local star-forming sequence for composite galaxies with an enhanced integrated specific star formation rate. We also detect in the outskirts of NGC 7770 Halpha emitting gas filaments. This gas appears to have been stripped from one of the two galaxies and is being excited by shocks. All these results are consistent with a minor-merger-induced episode(s) of star formation in NGC 7770 after the first close passage. Such effects are not observed on the primary galaxy NGC 7771. Based on observations collected at the Centro Astronómico Hispano-Alemán (CAHA) at Calar Alto, operated jointly by the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC). The data presented here were obtained (in part) with ALFOSC, which is provided by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA) under a joint agreement with the University of Copenhagen and NOTSA.
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