Comparative study of asymmetry origin of galaxies in different environments. I. Optical observations.
PLAUCHU-FRAYN I. and COZIOL R.
Abstract (from CDS):
This paper presents the first of two analyses about the influence of environment on the formation and evolution of galaxies observed in the nearby universe. For our study, we used three different samples representing different density environments: galaxies in Compact Groups (HCGs), Isolated Pairs of Galaxies (KPGs), and Isolated Galaxies (KIGs), which were taken as references. Usingboth characteristic isophotal parameters and evidence of asymmetries in the optical and the near-infrared, we are able to establish differences in the characteristics of galaxies with different morphologies in different environments, allowing us to better understand their different formation histories. In this first paper, we present the isophotal and asymmetry analyses of a sample of 214 galaxies in different environments observed in the optical (V and I images). For each galaxy, we have determined different characteristic isophotal parameters and V - I color profiles, as a function of semi-major axis, and performed a full asymmetry analysis in residual images using the V filter. Evidence of asymmetry in the optical is almost missing in the KIG sample and significantly more common in the KPG than in the HCG samples. Our isophotal analysis suggests that the stellar populations in the HCG galaxies are older and more dynamically relaxed than in the KPG. The HCG galaxies seem to be at a more advanced stage of interaction than the KPGs. One possible explanation is that these structures formed at different epochs: compact groups of galaxies would have formed before close pairs of galaxies, which only began interacting recently. However, similarities in the formation process of galaxies with same morphology suggest CGs and close pairs of galaxies share similar conditions; they are new structures forming relatively late in low-density environments.