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Hubble Space Telescope morphologies of local Lyman break galaxy analogs. I. evidence for starbursts triggered by merging

Overzier, Roderik A. and Heckman, Timothy M. and Kauffmann, Guinevere and Seibert, Mark and Rich, R. Michael and Basu-Zych, Antara and Lotz, Jennifer and Aloisi, Alessandra and Charlot, Stéphanie and Hoopes, C. and Martin, D. Christopher and Schiminovich, David and Madore, Barry (2008) Hubble Space Telescope morphologies of local Lyman break galaxy analogs. I. evidence for starbursts triggered by merging. Astrophysical Journal, 677 (1). pp. 37-62. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1086/529134.

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Heckman and coworkers used the GALEX UV imaging survey to show that there exists a rare population of nearby compact UV-luminous galaxies (UVLGs) that closely resemble high-redshift Lyman break galaxies (LBGs). We present HST images in the UV, optical, and Hα and resimulate them at the depth and resolution of the GOODS/UDF fields to show that the morphologies of UVLGs are also similar to those of LBGs. Our sample of eight LBG analogs thus provides detailed insight into the connection between star formation and LBG morphology. Faint tidal features or companions can be seen in all of the rest-frame optical images, suggesting that the starbursts are the result of a merger or interaction. The UV/optical light is dominated by unresolved (~100-300 pc) super starburst regions (SSBs). A detailed comparison with the galaxies Haro 11 and VV 114 at z = 0.02 indicates that the SSBs themselves consist of diffuse stars and (super) star clusters. The structural features revealed by the new HST images occur on very small physical scales and are thus not detectable in images of high-redshift LBGs, except in a few cases where they are magnified by gravitational lensing. We propose, therefore, that LBGs are mergers of gas-rich, relatively low-mass (M_* ~ 10^(10) M☉) systems, and that the mergers trigger the formation of SSBs. If galaxies at high redshifts are dominated by SSBs, then the faint-end slope of the luminosity function is predicted to have slope α ~ 2. Our results are the most direct confirmation to date of models that predict that the main mode of star formation in the early universe was highly collisional.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Seibert, Mark0000-0002-1143-5515
Rich, R. Michael0000-0003-0427-8387
Lotz, Jennifer0000-0003-3130-5643
Aloisi, Alessandra0000-0003-4137-882X
Martin, D. Christopher0000-0002-8650-1644
Madore, Barry0000-0002-1576-1676
Additional Information:© 2008 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2007 September 18, accepted for publication 2007 December 21. This paper has benefited from discussions and helpful comments from numerous friends and colleagues. We thank Casey Papovich, Masami Ouchi, and Isa Oliveira for carefully reading through the manuscript. We further thank Rychard Bouwens, Nick Cross, Ricardo Demarco, Marijn Franx, Lisa Kewley, Cheng Li, Crystal Martin, Alessandro Rettura, Samir Salim, Christi Tremonti, Arjen van der Wel, and Andrew Zirm for discussion of various parts of this paper. R. A. O. thanks Gabrelle Saurage for her excellent support during observations at APO. Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS5-26555. These observations are associated with program 10920. Based on observations obtained with the Apache Point Observatory (APO) 3.5 m telescope, which is owned and operated by the Astrophysical Research Consortium.
Group:Space Astrophysics Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:cosmology: observations; early universe; galaxies: high-redshift; galaxies: starburst
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20090517-213718284
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14247
Deposited By: Joy Painter
Deposited On:08 Jul 2009 21:07
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 22:44

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