Astrophysical Journal

Spitzer space telescope IRAC and MIPS observations of the interacting galaxies IC 2163 and NGC 2207: Clumpy emission

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IC 2163 and NGC 2207 are interacting galaxies that have been well studied at optical and radio wavelengths and simulated in numerical models to reproduce the observed kinematics and morphological features. Spitzer IRAC and MIPS observations reported here show over 200 bright clumps from young star complexes. The brightest IR clump is a morphologically peculiar region of star formation in the western arm of NGC 2207. This clump, which dominates the Ha and radio continuum emission from both galaxies, accounts for ∼12% of the total 24 μm flux. Nearly half of the clumps are regularly spaced along some filamentary structure, whether in the starburst oval of IC 2163 or in the thin spiral arms of NGC 2207. This regularity appears to influence the clump luminosity function, making it peaked at a value nearly a factor of 10 above the completeness limit, particularly in the starburst oval. This is unlike the optical clusters inside the clumps, which have a luminosity function consistent with the usual power-law form. The giant IR clumps presumably formed by gravitational instabilities in the compressed gas of the oval and the spiral arms, whereas the individual clusters formed by more chaotic processes, such as turbulence compression, inside these larger scale structures. © 2006. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.