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Paper: Unveiling Galaxy Interactions: Watching the Tides Roll
Volume: 423, Galaxy Wars: Star Formation and Stellar Populations in Interacting Galaxies
Page: 249
Authors: Keel, W. C.
Abstract: I set the stage for discussion of the stellar populations in interacting galaxies by looking back over the slow development of our understanding of these systems. From early anecdotal collections, to systematic cataloging, and finally to increasingly sophisticated N-body calculations, we have seen how gravity in distributed systems can produce the stunning variety of structures we see. At the same time, measures across the spectrum have made it clear that galaxy interactions are linked to star formation, albeit with the physical mechanisms much less clear. Improved data sets, including HST imaging, deep IR data, and large samples with well-defined selection criteria, have started to reveal correlations with dynamical parameters pointing to detailed histories of starbirth during collisions. The merger hypothesis for elliptical galaxies has broadened into seeing interactions and mergers as important parts of the overall evolution of galaxies. The connection becomes more important as we look to higher redshift, where more frequent interactions can drive the evolution of galaxies in multiple ways. Links between the properties of central black holes and surrounding galaxies makes it important likewise to understand the connections between AGN and interactions, which has remained more ambiguous due to the strong role of sample selection. Finally, contemporary data reach deep enough to show that most galaxies have interacted in the observable past; we must consider these events to be a normal part of galaxy history.
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