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Astron. Astrophys. 354, L21-L24 (2000)


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Letter to the Editor

Physical morphology and triggers of starburst galaxies

C.J. Conselice, M.A. Bershady, J.S. Gallagher and  III

The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Astronomy, Madison WI., 53706

Received 4 November 1999 / Accepted 12 January 2000

Abstract

We present a method of determining the likely triggering mechanisms for luminous, nearby starbursts based on their optical asymmetry and (B-V) color - what we term as indices of `physical morphology.' By comparing the starbursts' locations in a color-asymmetry diagram to an independent, nearby galaxy sample, we identify which starbursts are likely triggered by an interaction/merger. We confirm our morphological interpretation based on a comparison to 20% and 50% HI velocity-width ratios. We further explain how this use of physical morphology can put constraints on the dynamical history of other galaxies, including star-forming galaxies at high redshifts.

Key words: galaxies: evolution – galaxies: formation – galaxies: interactions – galaxies: kinematics and dynamics – galaxies: starburst

Send offprint requests to: C.J. Conselice

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

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