AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 47 Galaxy Clusters and Large-Scale Structure
Poster, Tuesday, January 6, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Grand Hall

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[47.05] Gone with the Wind: Watching Galaxy Transformation in Abell 2125

W. Keel (U. Ala.), F. Owen (NRAO), M. Ledlow (Gemini Obs.), D. Wang (U. Mass.)

Dense environments clearly foster the transformation of galaxies, but it has proven difficult to untangle the roles of various processes in cluster environments. We have found a uniquely strong case for ongoing stripping of gas from the galaxy C153 in Abell 2125. The cluster, at z=0.25, includes merging subsystems with a relative line-of-sight velocity near 2000 km/s. C153, identified using the VLA as a strong radio source powered by star formation, is the brightest cluster member with activity of this kind, and part of the less populous blueshifted grouping. Several lines of evidence indicate that it is being swept by a stripping event. (1) A tail of ionized gas is seen in [O II] emission, which extends at least 70 kpc toward the cluster core, coinciding with a soft X-ray feature seen in the Chandra observations reported by Wang et al. (2) HST WFPC2 images reveal disturbed and clumpy morphology, including luminous star-forming complexes and chaotic dust features. (3) The spectral energy distribution and Gemini GMOS absorption-line spectrum indicate a massive burst of star formation \approx 108 years ago superimposed on an older and much fainter population. (4) The stellar and gas kinematics are decoupled, with multiple gas velocity systems including counter-rotating components. The large velocity difference between the galaxy and (most of the) intracluster medium may contribute to the signatures being more prominent than hitherto seen. The starburst age is consistent with estimates of the time since the closest encounter of the major subsystems during the cluster-level merger. We continue to explore whether a starburst outflow or tidal damage has added to the role of stripping by the ICM, and how star formation has proceeded in the gas after leaving the galaxy disk.

This work was supported by NASA through HST grant GO-07279.01-96A, and by the NSF through facilities at NRAO, Kitt Peak, and Gemini-North.

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