Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 445, 1694-1712 (2014/December-1)
The triggering of starbursts in low-mass galaxies.
LELLI F., VERHEIJEN M. and FRATERNALI F.
Abstract (from CDS):
Strong bursts of star formation in galaxies may be triggered either by internal or external mechanisms. We study the distribution and kinematics of the HI gas in the outer regions of 18 nearby starburst dwarf galaxies that have accurate star formation histories from Hubble Space Telescope observations of resolved stellar populations. We find that starburst dwarfs show a variety of HI morphologies, ranging from heavily disturbed HI distributions with major asymmetries, long filaments, and/or Hi-stellar offsets to lopsided HI distributions with minor asymmetries. We quantify the outer HI asymmetry for both our sample and a control sample of typical dwarf irregulars. Starburst dwarfs have more asymmetric outer HI morphologies than typical irregulars, suggesting that some external mechanism triggered the starburst. Moreover, galaxies hosting an old burst ( ≳ 100Myr) have more symmetric HI morphologies than galaxies hosting a young one ( ≲ 100Myr), indicating that the former ones probably had enough time to regularize their outer HI distribution since the onset of the burst. We also investigate the nearby environment of these starburst dwarfs and find that most of them ( ∼ 80 percent) have at least one potential perturber at a projected distance ≲ 200kpc. Our results suggest that the starburst is triggered either by past interactions/mergers between gas-rich dwarfs or by direct gas infall from the intergalactic medium.