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Journal Articles Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A Year : 2019

Merger induced clump formation in distant infrared luminous starburst galaxies


While the formation of stellar clumps in distant galaxies is usually attributed to gravitational violent disk instabilities, we show here that major mergers also represent a competitive mechanism to form bright clumps. Using ∼0.1″ resolution ACS F814W images in the entire COSMOS field, we measured the fraction of clumpy emission in 109 main sequence (MS) and 79 Herschel-detected starbursts (off-MS) galaxies at 0.5 < z < 0.9, representative of normal versus merger induced star-forming activity, respectively. We additionally identify merger samples from visual inspection and from Gini-M20 morphological parameters. Regardless of the merger criteria adopted, the clumpiness distribution of merging systems is different from that of normal isolated disks at a > 99.5% confidence level. The former reaches higher clumpiness values up to 20% of the total galaxy emission. We confirm the merger induced clumpiness enhancement with novel hydrodynamical simulations of colliding galaxies with gas fractions typical of z ∼ 0.7. Multi-wavelength images of three starbursts in the CANDELS field support the young nature of clumps, which are likely merger products rather than older preexisting structures. Finally, for a subset of 19 starbursts with existing near-infrared rest frame spectroscopy, we find that the clumpiness is mildly anti-correlated with the merger phase, which decreases toward final coalescence. Our result can explain recent ALMA detections of clumps in hyperluminous high-z starbursts, while normal objects are smooth. This work raises a question as to the role of mergers on the origin of clumps in high redshift galaxies in general.
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Dates and versions

cea-02403585 , version 1 (10-12-2019)



Antonello Calabrò, Emanuele Daddi, Jérémy Fensch, Frédéric Bournaud, Anna Cibinel, et al.. Merger induced clump formation in distant infrared luminous starburst galaxies. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, 2019, 632, pp.A98. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201935778⟩. ⟨cea-02403585⟩
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