Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

A Close-Up View of a Merger System: Molecular Gas and Star Formation in the Antennae

Christine Wilson
McMaster University

Wednesday, November 6, 2002
1:30 PM @ Stirling A

Abstract:

As the closest example of a merger of two massive spiral the galaxies,the "Antennae" system (NGC 4038/39) offers a unique opportunity to study the physical and dynamical properties of the interstellar medium in an active merger system. The Antennae have one of the largest populations of luminous star clusters known, while observations with the Infrared Space Observatory have revealed luminous regions of massive star formation that are completely invisible at optical wavelengths. Studying the properties of the molecular gas out of which these star clusters formed is important for understanding the triggering of intense star formation in galaxy mergers. I will present observations of the Antennae in CO emission which reveal extremely massive concentrations of molecular gas and a chaotic velocity field. I will also discuss the implications of these data for understanding the formation on massive star clusters in the Antennae.