Witnessing gas mixing in the metal distribution of the Hickson Compact Group HCG 31 [GA]


We present, for the first time, direct evidence that, in a merger of disk galaxies, the preexisting central metallicities will mix as a result of gas being transported in the merger interface region, along the line that joins the two coalescing nuclei. This is shown using detailed 2D kinematics as well as metallicity measurements for the nearby ongoing merger in the center of the compact group HCG 31. We focus on the emission line gas, which is extensive in the system. The two coalescing cores display similar oxygen abundances while in between the two nuclei the metallicity changes smoothly from one nucleus to the other, indicating a mix of metals in this region, which is confirmed by the high resolution H$\alpha$ kinematics (R=45900). This nearby system is especially important because it involves the merging of two fairly low mass and clumpy galaxies (LMC-like galaxies), making it an important system for comparison with high redshift galaxies.

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S. Torres-Flores, C. Oliveira, P. Amram, et. al.
Wed, 10 Dec 14

Comments: Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters