AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 47. Open Clusters, Hot Stars, and Cluster Formation in Tidal Tails
Display, Thursday, January 13, 2000, 9:20am-6:30pm, Grand Hall

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[47.14] From Globular Clusters to Tidal Dwarfs: Structure Formation in Tidal Tails

K. Knierman (Penn State), S. Hunsberger (Lowell), S. Gallagher, J. Charlton (Penn State), B. Whitmore (STScI), J. Hibbard (NRAO), A. Kundu (Virginia), D. Zaritsky (Arizona)

Galaxy interactions trigger star formation in tidal debris. How does this star formation depend on the local and global physical conditions? Using WFPC2/HST images, we investigate the range of structure within tidal tails of four classic ``Toomre Sequence'' mergers: NGC 4038/9 (``Antennae''), NGC 7252 (``Atoms for Peace''), NGC 3921, and NGC 3256. These tails contain a variety of stellar associations with sizes from globular clusters up to dwarf Irregulars. We explore whether there is a continuum between the two extremes. Our eight fields sample seven tidal tails at a variety of stages in the evolutionary sequence. Some of these tails are rich in HI while others are HI poor. Large tidal dwarfs are embedded in three of the tails.

Using V and I WFPC2 images, we measure luminosities and colors of substructures within the tidal tails. The properties of globular cluster candidates in the tails will be contrasted with those of the hundreds of young clusters in the central regions of these mergers. We address whether globular clusters form and survive in the tidal tails and whether tidal dwarfs are composed of only young stars. By comparing the properties of structures in the tails of the four mergers with different ages, we examine systematic evolution of structure along the evolutionary sequence and as a function of HI content.

We acknowledge support from NASA through STScI, and from NSF for an REU supplement for Karen Knierman.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: kak@astro.psu.edu

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