A Hubble space telescope WFPC2 investigation of the nuclear morphology in the Toomre sequence of merging galaxies.
LAINE S., VAN DER MAREL R.P., ROSSA J., HIBBARD J.E., MIHOS J.C., BOKER T. and ZABLUDOFF A.I.
Abstract (from CDS):
We report on the properties of nuclear regions in the Toomre sequence of merging galaxies, based on imaging data gathered with the Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 camera. We have imaged the 11 systems in the proposed evolutionary merger sequence in the F555W and F814W broadband filters, and in Hα+[N II] narrowband filters. The broadband morphology of the nuclear regions varies from nonnucleated starburst clumps through dust-covered nuclei to a nucleated morphology. There is no unambiguous trend in the morphology with merger stage. The emission-line morphology is extended beyond the nucleus in most cases, but centrally concentrated (within 1 kpc) emission-line gas can be seen in the four latest-stage merger systems. We have quantified the intrinsic luminosity densities and colors within the inner 100 pc and 1 kpc of each identified nucleus. We find little evidence for a clear trend in nuclear properties along the merger sequence other than a suggestive rise in the nuclear luminosity density in the most evolved members of the sequence. The lack of clear trends in nuclear properties is likely due both to the effects of obscuration and geometry, as well as the physical variety of galaxies included in the Toomre sequence.