A Comparison of Star-forming Clumps and Tidal Tails in Local Mergers and High-redshift Galaxies

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The Clusters, Clumps, Dust, and Gas in Extreme Star-forming Galaxies (CCDG) survey with the Hubble Space Telescope includes multiwavelength imaging of 13 galaxies less than 100 Mpc away, spanning a range of morphologies and sizes, from blue compact dwarfs to luminous infrared galaxies, all with star formation rates in excess of hundreds of solar masses per year. Images of seven merging galaxies in the CCDG survey were artificially redshifted to compare with galaxies at z = 0.5, 1, and 2. Most redshifted tails have surface brightnesses that would be visible at z = 0.5 or 1 but not at z = 2 due to cosmological dimming. Giant star clumps are apparent in these galaxies; the 51 measured have similar sizes, masses, and colors to clumps in observed high-z systems in the UDF, GEMS, GOODS, and CANDELS surveys. These results suggest that some clumpy high-z galaxies without observable tidal features could be the result of mergers. The local clumps also have the same star formation rate per unit area and stellar surface density as clumps observed at intermediate and high redshift, so they provide insight into the substructure of distant clumps. A total of 1596 star clusters brighter than M V = -9 were identified within the boundaries of the local clumps. The cluster magnitude distribution function is a power law with approximately the same slope (∼-1 for a plot of number versus log luminosity) for all the galaxies both inside and outside the clumps and independently of clump surface brightness.