Observations and modelling of a clumpy galaxy at z = 1 . 6 ⋆ Spectroscopic clues to the origin and evolution of chain galaxies


We investigate the properties of a clump-cluster galaxy at redshift 1.57. The morphology of this galaxy is dominated by eight star-forming clumps in optical observations, and has photometric properties typical of most clump-cluster and chain galaxies. Its complex asymmetrical morphology has led to the suggestion that this system is a group merger of several initially separate proto-galaxies. We performed Hα integral field spectroscopy of this system using SINFONI on VLT UT4. These observations reveal a large-scale velocity gradient throughout the system, but with large local kinematic disturbances. Using a numerical model of gas-rich disk fragmentation, we find that clump interactions and migration can account for the observed disturbed rotation. On the other hand, the global rotation would not be expected for a multiply merging system. We further find that this system follows the stellar mass vs. metallicity, star formation rate and size relations expected for a disk at this redshift, and exhibits a disk-like radial metallicity gradient, so that the scenario of internal disk fragmentation is the most likely one. A red and metallic central concentration appears to be a bulge in this proto-spiral clumpy galaxy. A chain galaxy at redshift 2.07 in the same field also shows disk-like rotation. Such systems are likely progenitors of the present-day bright spiral galaxies, forming their exponential disks through clump migration and disruption and fueling their bulges. Our present results show that disturbed morphologies and kinematics are not necessarily signs of galaxy mergers and interactions, and can instead result from the internal evolution of primordial disks.

13 Figures and Tables

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Bournaud2008ObservationsAM, title={Observations and modelling of a clumpy galaxy at z = 1 . 6 ⋆ Spectroscopic clues to the origin and evolution of chain galaxies}, author={Fr{\'e}d{\'e}ric Bournaud and Emanuele Daddi and Bruce G. Elmegreen and D . M . Elmegreen and Nicole Paula Heidelies Nesvadba and Eros Vanzella and P. Di Matteo and L . Le Tiran and Matthew D. Lehnert and David Elbaz}, year={2008} }