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Most Submillimeter Galaxies are Major Mergers

Engel, H. and Tacconi, L. J. and Davies, R. I. and Neri, R. and Smail, I. and Chapman, S. C. and Genzel, R. and Cox, P. and Greve, T. R. and Ivison, R. J. and Blain, A. and Bertoldi, F. and Omont, A. (2010) Most Submillimeter Galaxies are Major Mergers. Astrophysical Journal, 724 (1). pp. 233-243. ISSN 0004-637X.

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We analyze subarcsecond resolution interferometric CO line data for 12 submillimeter-luminous (S_(850 μm) ≥ 5 mJy) galaxies with redshifts between 1 and 3, presenting new data for 4 of them. Morphologically and kinematically, most of the 12 systems appear to be major mergers. Five of them are well-resolved binary systems, and seven are compact or poorly resolved. Of the four binary systems for which mass measurements for both separate components can be made, all have mass ratios of 1:3 or closer. Furthermore, comparison of the ratio of compact to binary systems with that observed in local ULIRGs indicates that at least a significant fraction of the compact submillimeter-luminous galaxies (SMGs) must also be late-stage mergers. In addition, the dynamical and gas masses we derive are most consistent with the lower end of the range of stellar masses published for these systems, favoring cosmological models in which SMGs result from mergers. These results all point to the same conclusion that most of the bright SMGs with L_(IR) ≳ 5 × 10^(12) L_☉ are likely major mergers.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Tacconi, L. J.0000-0002-1485-9401
Neri, R.0000-0002-7176-4046
Smail, I.0000-0003-3037-257X
Genzel, R.0000-0002-2767-9653
Cox, P.0000-0003-2027-8221
Ivison, R. J.0000-0001-5118-1313
Blain, A.0000-0001-7489-5167
Bertoldi, F.0000-0002-1707-1775
Omont, A.0000-0002-4721-3922
Additional Information:© 2010 American Astronomical Society. Received 2010 April 12; accepted 2010 September 10; published 2010 November 1. We would like to thank the anonymous referee for a thoughtful and thorough reading of the manuscript, which helped to improve and clarify the paper. H.E. would like to thank Desika Narayanan for a helpful discussion of his simulations and the merger evolution of S850μm versus LIR. We thank the staff of the IRAM observatory for their support of this program. The Dark Cosmology Centre is funded by DNRF. T.R.G. acknowledges support from IDA. I.R.S. acknowledges support from STFC.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA)UNSPECIFIED
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:cosmology: observations; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: formation; galaxies: high-redshift; galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
Issue or Number:1
Classification Code:PACS: 98.54.Ep; 98.62.Py; 98.62.Bj; 98.62.Dm; 98.65.Fz; 98.62.Hr
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20101206-095558639
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:H. Engel et al 2010 ApJ 724 233 doi: 10.1088/0004-637X/724/1/233
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:21166
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:07 Dec 2010 22:12
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 02:20

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