Recent spectroscopic and high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging observations have revealed significant numbers of ``passive'' spiral galaxies in distant clusters, with all the morphological hallmarks of a spiral galaxy (in particular, spiral arm structure), but with weak or absent star formation. Exactly how such spiral galaxies formed and whether they are the progenitors of present-day S0 galaxies is unclear. Based on analytic arguments and numerical simulations of the hydrodynamical evolution of a spiral galaxy's halo gas (which is a likely candidate for the source of gas replenishment for star formation in spirals), we show that the origin of passive spirals may well be associated with halo gas stripping. Such stripping results mainly from the hydrodynamical interaction between the halo gas and the hot intracluster gas. Our numerical simulations demonstrate that even if a spiral orbits a cluster with a pericenter distance ~3 times larger than the cluster core radius, ~80% of the halo gas is stripped within a few Gyr and, accordingly, cannot be accreted by the spiral. Furthermore, our study demonstrates that this dramatic decline in the gaseous infall rate leads to a steady increase in the Q parameter for the disk, with the spiral arm structure, although persisting, becoming less pronounced as the star formation rate gradually decreases. These results suggest that passive spirals formed in this way gradually evolve into red cluster S0s.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||The Astrophysical Journal|
|Publication status||Published - 2002|