The observability of galaxy merger signatures in nearby gas-rich spirals

Article


McElroy, Rebecca, Bottrell, Connor, Hani, Maan H., Moreno, Jorge, Croom, Scott M., Hayward, Christopher C., Twum, Angela, Feldmann, Robert, Hopkins, Philip F., Hernquist, Lars and Husemann, Bernd. 2022. "The observability of galaxy merger signatures in nearby gas-rich spirals." Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 515 (3), pp. 3406-3419. https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stac1715
Article Title

The observability of galaxy merger signatures in nearby gas-rich spirals

ERA Journal ID1074
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsMcElroy, Rebecca, Bottrell, Connor, Hani, Maan H., Moreno, Jorge, Croom, Scott M., Hayward, Christopher C., Twum, Angela, Feldmann, Robert, Hopkins, Philip F., Hernquist, Lars and Husemann, Bernd
Journal TitleMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Journal Citation515 (3), pp. 3406-3419
Number of Pages14
Year2022
PublisherOxford University Press
ISSN0035-8711
1365-2966
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stac1715
Web Address (URL)https://academic.oup.com/mnras/article/515/3/3406/6620846
AbstractGalaxy mergers are crucial to understanding galaxy evolution, therefore we must determine their observational signatures to select them from large IFU galaxy samples such as MUSE and SAMI. We employ 24 high-resolution idealized hydrodynamical galaxy merger simulations based on the ‘Feedback In Realistic Environment’ (FIRE-2) model to determine the observability of mergers to various configurations and stages using synthetic images and velocity maps. Our mergers cover a range of orbital configurations at fixed 1:2.5 stellar mass ratio for two gas rich spirals at low redshift. Morphological and kinematic asymmetries are computed for synthetic images and velocity maps spanning each interaction. We divide the interaction sequence into three: (1) the pair phase; (2) the merging phase; and (3) the post-coalescence phase. We correctly identify mergers between first pericentre passage and 500 Myr after coalescence using kinematic asymmetry with 66 per cent completeness, depending upon merger phase and the field of view of the observation. We detect fewer mergers in the pair phase (40 per cent) and many more in the merging and post-coalescence phases (97 per cent). We find that merger detectability decreases with field of view, except in retrograde mergers, where centrally concentrated asymmetric kinematic features enhances their detectability. Using a cut-off derived from a combination of photometric and kinematic asymmetry, we increase these detections to 89 per cent overall, 79 per cent in pairs, and close to 100 per cent in the merging and post-coalescent phases. By using this combined asymmetry cut-off we mitigate some of the effects caused by smaller fields of view subtended by massively multiplexed integral field spectroscopy programmes.
Keywordsgalaxies; interactions; galaxies; formation; galaxies; evolution
Contains Sensitive ContentDoes not contain sensitive content
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020510102. Astronomical instrumentation
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Mathematics, Physics and Computing
University of Sydney
ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions, Australia
University of Tokyo, Japan
University of Victoria, Canada
McMaster University, Canada
Pomona College, United States
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Flatiron Institute, United States
University of Zurich, Switzerland
California Institute of Technology (Caltech), United States
Center for Astrophysics Harvard and Smithsonian, United States
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Germany
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