Evidence for Shock-heated Gas in the Taffy Galaxies and Bridge from Optical Emission-line IFU Spectroscopy

June 2019 • 2019ApJ...878..161J

Authors • Joshi, Bhavin A. • Appleton, Philip N. • Blanc, Guillermo A. • Guillard, Pierre • Rich, Jeffrey • Struck, Curtis • Freeland, Emily E. • Peterson, Bradley W. • Helou, George • Alatalo, Katherine

Abstract • We present optical integral field unit observations of the Taffy system (UGC 12914/15), named for the radio emission that stretches between the two galaxies. Given that these gas-rich galaxies are believed to have recently collided head-on, the pair exhibits a surprisingly normal total (sub-LIRG) IR luminosity (L FIR ∼ 4.5 × 1010 L ). Previous observations have demonstrated that a large quantity of molecular and neutral gas has been drawn out of the galaxies into a massive multiphase bridge. We present, for the first time, spatially resolved spectroscopy of the ionized gas in the system. The results show that the ionized gas is highly disturbed kinematically, with gas spread in two main filaments between the two galaxies. The line profiles exhibit widespread double components in both the bridge and parts of the disks of the galaxies. We investigate the spatial distribution of the excitation properties of the ionized gas using emission-line diagnostic diagrams and conclude that a large quantity (up to 40%) of the emission from the entire system is consistent with gas heated in ∼200 km s-1 shocks. While the shocked gas is mainly associated with the bridge, there is a significant amount of shocked gas associated with both galaxies. Confirming other multiwavelength indicators, the results suggest that the effects of shocks and turbulence can continue to be felt in a high-speed galaxy collision long after the collision has occurred. The persistence of shocks in the Taffy system may explain the relatively low current star formation rates in the system as a whole.


IPAC Authors


Phil Appleton

Senior Scientist