AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 25 Galaxy Evolution Explorer Mission
Poster, Monday, January 10, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[25.05] Recent Star Formation in Tidal Tails: New GALEX Results

S. G. Neff (NASA / GSFC), D. Thilker (JHU), J. E. Hibbard (NRAO), M. Seibert (CIT), A. Gil de Paz (OCIW), D. Schiminovich (Columbia), C. Martin (CIT), R. M. Rich (UCLA), B. Madore (OCIW), L. Bianchi (JHU)

New GALEX observations have detected significant FUV (1530Å) and NUV (2310Å) emission from stellar substructures in the tidal tails of five ongoing galaxy mergers. The UV-bright regions are optically faint and are coincident with HI density enhancements. FUV emission is detected at any location where the HI surface density exceeds ~ 2 Msun pc-2, and is often detected in the absence of visible wavelength emission. UV luminosities of the brighter regions of the tidal tails imply masses of 106Msun up to ~ 109Msun in young stars in the tails, and HI luminosities imply similar HI masses. UV-optical colors of the tidal tails indicate stellar populations as young as a few Myr, and in all cases ages < 400Myr. Most of the young stars in the tails formed in single bursts rather than resulting from continuous star formation, and they formed in situ as the tails evolved. Star formation appears to be older near the parent galaxies and younger at increasing distances from the parent galaxy. This could be because the star formation occurs progressively along the tails, or because the star formation has been inhibited near the galaxy/tail interface. The youngest stellar concentrations, usually near the ends of long tidal tails, have masses comparable to confirmed tidal dwarf galaxies and may be newly forming galaxies undergoing their first burst of star formation.

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© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.