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Published July 2012 | Published
Journal Article Open

Stripped gas as fuel for newly formed H  II regions in the encounter between VCC 1249 and M49: a unified picture from NGVS and GUViCS


Context. We study the peculiar interacting galaxy system of VCC 1249/M 49 located in the core of the Virgo B subcluster. Owing to a recent interaction between the dwarf galaxy VCC 1249 and the halo gas of the elliptical galaxy M 49, neutral hydrogen has been displaced from the interstellar medium of this dwarf into the Virgo intracluster medium. Observations also reveal multiple compact star-forming regions (aka H  II regions) that are embedded in this H  I cloud, with a projected separation up to 13 kpc from VCC 1249 in the northwest direction. Aims. Motivated by recent near-ultraviolet imaging from the GALEX Ultraviolet Virgo Cluster Survey (GUViCS) of the VCC 1249/M 49 system that shows significant ongoing/recent star formation in the compact regions, we aim to constrain the origin of these outlying H  II regions with a multi-wavelength approach. Methods. Using deep optical (u,g,i,z) imaging from the Next Generation Virgo Cluster Survey (NGVS) and new Hα imaging obtained at the San Pedro Martir observatory together with Keck long-slit spectroscopy, we characterize the star formation rates, ages, and metallicity of VCC 1249 and its outlying compact regions. Moreover, we analyze the color and luminosity profile of the galaxy to investigate its recent interaction with M 49. Results. Our new observations indicate that VCC 1249 underwent a recent interaction with M 49 in which both ram-pressure stripping and tidal interaction occured. The joint action of the two mechanisms led to the removal of the H  I gas from the interstellar medium of VCC 1249, while the gravitational tides triggered the stellar tail and counter-tail of VCC 1249. Our stellar population synthesis analysis reveals that the star formation in this galaxy was truncated around 200 Myr ago and that the outlying H  II regions were born in situ ≈10 Myr ago out of pre-enriched gas removed from the dwarf galaxy. These observations also reveal that interactions between central and satellite galaxies similar to those between VCC 1249/M 49 may be an effective way of dispersing metals into the halos of massive galaxies.

Additional Information

© 2012 ESO. Received 26 January 2012. Accepted 30 April 2012. Published online 06 July 2012. We warmly thank Mattia Fumagalli for his precious contribution on the SED fitting procedures. We really appreciated the help provided by J. Xavier Prochaska in obtaining Keck data. This work made extensive use of GoldMine, the Galaxy On Line Database (http://goldmine.mib.infn.it). We are grateful to P. Franzetti and M. Hilker for constructive discussions. We thank Joseph F. Hennawi for his useful comments on the draft. Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Mauna Kea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain. The present study could not have been conceived without the DR7 of SDSS. Funding for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and SDSS-II has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Participating Institutions, the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Japanese Monbukagakusho, and the Max Planck Society, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The SDSSWeb site is http://www.sdss.org/. The SDSS is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC) for the Participating Institutions. The Participating Institutions are the American Museum of Natural History, Astrophysical Institute Potsdam, University of Basel, University of Cambridge, Case Western Reserve University, The University of Chicago, Drexel University, Fermilab, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Japan Participation Group, The Johns Hopkins University, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, the Korean Scientist Group, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (LAMOST), Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics (MPA), New Mexico State University, Ohio State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Portsmouth, Princeton University, the United States Naval Observatory, and the University of Washington. GALEX is a NASA Small Explorer, launched in 2003 April. We gratefully acknowledge NASA's support for construction, operation and science analysis for the GALEX mission, developed in cooperation with the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) of France and the Korean Ministry of Science and Technology. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (/FP7/2007–2013/) under grant agreement No 229517. This work is supported in part by the Canadian Advanced Network for Astronomical Research (CANFAR) which has been made possible by funding from CANARIE under the Network-Enabled Platforms program. G. Gavazzi acknowledges financial support from Italian MIUR PRIN contract 200854ECE5 and from the high energy contract ASI-INAF I/009/10/0. J.C. Mihos thanks the National Science Foundation for support through awards ASTR-0607526 and AST-0707793. We thank the Referee for the thorough reading of the manuscript and helpful comments.

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