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MPE News March 16, 2009

Formation of S0 galaxies as common in groups as in clusters

S0 Galaxy

Image: MPE

MPE astrophysicist Dave Wilman has gained new insight into the formation of a special category of galaxies, the so-called S0 galaxies, which will influence studies of galaxies in general.

According to his results S0 galaxies exist as often in small groups as in galaxy clusters. They are likely to be formed in groups, and then fall into more massive clusters. This also means that they form in a different way than previously thought. In clusters the dense intracluster medium is able to strip the gas from individual galaxies, but in groups interactions between galaxies play a more important role. Regarding galaxy formation in general, groups are a much more common environment for galaxies than clusters (~10 times as common). So many more galaxies in the Universe will be affected by processes that take place in groups - such as the suppression of star formation during the formation of S0s - than by processes that take place in clusters.

The results, which were first published in Astrophysical Journal (ApJ) in February, were described as a "research highlight" in Nature and published there in the form of a summary.

Original article in ApJ :   external link ApJ 692, Issue 1, pp. 298-308 (2009)

Nature Research Highlight :   external linkVol 458, 5 March 2009


D. WilmanDr. Dave Wilman
Dep.: Optical and Interpretative Astronomy
Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik
Tel.: +49 89 30000-3117
E-Mail: dwilman@mpe.mpg.de

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