Molecular and atomic gas in dust lane early-type galaxies - I. Low star formation efficiencies in minor merger remnants

T.A. Davis, K. Rowlands, J.R. Allison, S.S. Shabala, Y.S. Ting, Claudia Lagos Urbina, S. Kaviraj, N. Bourne, L. Dunne, S. Eales, R.J. Ivison, S. Maddox, D.J.B. Smith, M.W.L. Smith, P. Temi

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© 2015 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. In this work we present IRAM 30-m telescope observations of a sample of bulge-dominated galaxies with large dust lanes, which have had a recent minor merger. We find these galaxies are very gas rich, with H2 masses between 4 × 108 and 2 × 1010 M⊙.We use these molecular gas masses, combined with atomic gas masses from an accompanying paper, to calculate gas-to-dust and gas-to-stellar-mass ratios. The gas-to-dust ratios of our sample objects vary widely (between ≈50 and 750), suggesting many objects have low gas-phase metallicities, and thus that the gas has been accreted through a recent merger with a lower mass companion.We calculate the implied minor companion masses and gas fractions, finding a median predicted stellar mass ratio of ≈40:1. The minor companion likely had masses between ≈107 and 1010 M⊙. The implied merger mass ratios are consistent with the expectation for low-redshift gas-richmergers from simulations.We then go on to present evidence that (nomatterwhich star formation rate indicator is used) our sample objects have very low star formation efficiencies (star formation rate per unit gas mass), lower even than the early-type galaxies from ATLAS3D which already show a suppression. This suggests that minor mergers can actually suppress star formation activity. We discuss mechanisms that could cause such a suppression, include dynamical effects induced by the minor merger.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3503-3516
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date9 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


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