Morphological Transformation from Galaxy Harassment

Ben Moore, George Lake, Neal Katz
1998 Astrophysical Journal  
Galaxy morphologies in clusters have undergone a remarkable transition over the past several billion years. Distant clusters at z ∼ 0.4 are filled with small spiral galaxies, many of which are disturbed and show evidence of multiple bursts of star-formation. This population is absent from nearby clusters where spheroidals comprise the faint end of the luminosity function. Our numerical simulations follow the evolution of disk galaxies in a rich cluster owing to encounters with brighter galaxies
more » ... and the cluster's tidal field---galaxy harassment. After a bursting transient phase, they undergo a complete morphological transformation from "disks" to"spheroidals". We examine the remnants and find support for our theory in detailed comparisons of the photometry and kinematics of the spheroidal galaxies in clusters. Our model naturally accounts for the intermediate age stellar population seen in these spheroidals as well as the trend in dwarf to giant ratio with cluster richness. The final shapes are typically prolate and are flattened primarily by velocity anisotropy. Their mass to light ratios are in the range 3---8 in good agreement with observations.
doi:10.1086/305264 fatcat:2nf3czqlpncl7iwwrfietwpbse