Columbia University | 2018 Aug 10
Study Highlights Role of Dwarf-Galaxy Mergers in Refueling Other Galaxies with Gas
Home to millions of stars, dwarf galaxies are outshined by bigger galaxies like the Milky Way with hundreds to thousands of times more stars. But what dwarf galaxies lack in brightness, they make up for in their sheer abundance of star-making fuel. The hydrogen gas swirling through the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and dwarf galaxies like them are thought to play a key role in birthing new stars and other small galaxies.
To explore the star-making potential of dwarf galaxy pairs, a research team led by then-Columbia graduate student Sarah Pearson turned to a remote pair — NGC 4490 and NGC 4485 — 23 million light years away. Similar to the Large Magellanic Cloud, NGC 4490 is several times larger than its companion galaxy. But its isolated location allowed the researchers to simulate its eventual merger with NGC 4485 without interference from the Milky Way’s gravitational pull. ...
Modeling the Baryon Cycle in Low Mass Galaxy Encounters: The Case of NGC 4490 & NGC 4485 - Sarah Pearson et al