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A 30 kpc chain of 'beads on a string' star formation between two merging early type galaxies in the core of a strong-lensing galaxy cluster

Tremblay, Grant R., Gladders, Michael D., Baum, Stefi A., O'Dea, Christopher P., Bayliss, Matthew B., Cooke, Kevin C., Dahle, Håkon, Davis, Timothy A., Florian, Michael, Rigby, Jane R., Sharon, Keren, Soto, Emmaris and Wuyts, Eva 2014. A 30 kpc chain of 'beads on a string' star formation between two merging early type galaxies in the core of a strong-lensing galaxy cluster. Astrophysical Journal Letters 790 (2) , L26. 10.1088/2041-8205/790/2/L26

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New Hubble Space Telescope ultraviolet and optical imaging of the strong-lensing galaxy cluster SDSS J1531+3414 (z = 0.335) reveals two centrally dominant elliptical galaxies participating in an ongoing major merger. The interaction is at least somewhat rich in cool gas, as the merger is associated with a complex network of 19 massive superclusters of young stars (or small tidal dwarf galaxies) separated by ~1 kpc in projection from one another, combining to an estimated total star formation rate of ~5 M ☉ yr–1. The resolved young stellar superclusters are threaded by narrow Hα, [O II], and blue excess filaments arranged in a network spanning ~27 kpc across the two merging galaxies. This morphology is strongly reminiscent of the well-known "beads on a string" mode of star formation observed on kiloparsec scales in the arms of spiral galaxies, resonance rings, and in tidal tails between interacting galaxies. Nevertheless, the arrangement of this star formation relative to the nuclei of the two galaxies is difficult to interpret in a dynamical sense, as no known "beads on a string" systems associated with kiloparsec-scale tidal interactions exhibit such lopsided morphology relative to the merger participants. In this Letter, we present the images and follow-up spectroscopy and discuss possible physical interpretations for the unique arrangement of the young stellar clusters. While we suggest that this morphology is likely to be dynamically short-lived, a more quantitative understanding awaits necessary multiwavelength follow-up, including optical integral field spectroscopy, ALMA submillimeter interferometry, and Chandra X-ray imaging

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Publisher: Institute of Physics
ISSN: 2041-8205
Date of Acceptance: 24 June 2014
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2019 12:23

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