Astrophys. J., 677, 37-62 (2008/April-2)
Hubble Space Telescope morphologies of local Lyman break galaxy analogs. I. Evidence for starbursts triggered by merging.
OVERZIER R.A., HECKMAN T.M., KAUFFMANN G., SEIBERT M., RICH R.M., BASU-ZYCH A., LOTZ J., ALOISI A., CHARLOT S., HOOPES C., MARTIN D.C., SCHIMINOVICH D. and MADORE B.
Abstract (from CDS):
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*∼1010 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.
Cosmology: Observations - Cosmology: Early Universe - Galaxies: High-Redshift - Galaxies: Starburst
VV 114E = VV 114a, VV 114W = VV 114b
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