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Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. Ser. 132, 181-193

A statistical study of the spectra of very luminous IRAS galaxies[*]

II. Spectral and environmental analysis

H. Wu1,4 - Z.L. Zou1,4 - X.Y. Xia1,2,4 - Z.G. Deng1,3,4

Send offprint request: H. Wu

1 - Beijing Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100080, China
2 - Department of Physics, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 300074, China
3 - Department of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences Graduate School, Beijing 100039, China
4 - Beijing Astrophysics Center (BAC)[*], Beijing 100871, China

Received November 5, 1997; accepted April 1, 1998


Spectroscopic observations of a sample of 73 very luminous IRAS galaxies ($\rm log({\it L}_{IR}/{\it L}_{\odot})\ge11.5$ for $\rm {\it H}_{0}=50~km\ s^{-1}\; Mpc^{-1}$,$\rm 
{\it q}_{0}=0.5$) from the 2 Jy redshift survey catalogue were carried out using the 2.16 m telescope at the Beijing Astronomical Observatory. The observational data, including the optical images (extracted from Digital Sky Survey) and spectra for these galaxies, are presented in Paper I (Wu et al. 1998). In this paper, we give the spectral and morphological classifications for these very luminous IRAS galaxies (VLIRGs). We show that about 60% of VLIRGs exhibit AGN-like spectra (Seyfert 1s, Seyfert 2s, LINER-like galaxies). This fraction goes up to 82% for the ultraluminous IRAS galaxies (ULIRGs) subsample ($\rm Log({\it L}_{IR}/{\it L}_{\odot}) \geq 12.0$). 56% of the VLIRGs show strong interaction or merging signatures; this fraction rises to 91% for the ULIRGs. These statistical results strongly suggest that interaction triggers nuclear activities and enhances the infrared luminosity. We find that LINER and a mixture type which have optical properties of both HII galaxies and LINERs could be at the transition stage from infrared luminous HII galaxies to AGNs; their main energy production is from starbursts as well as AGNs. Both infrared luminosities and $\rm H\alpha$ equivalent widths increase dramatically as nuclear separations between VLIRGs and their nearest neighbors decrease. There is little doubt that strong starbursts happen in the nuclei of VLIRGs. Assuming class 0 as advanced merger, we construct a simple merger sequence, from morphological classes 1 to 4 (with near or far companions), to class 5 and 6 (interacting pairs and mergers) and then to class 0 (isolated galaxies). Along this sequence, VLIRGs evolve from HII galaxies to AGNs.

Key words: infrared: galaxies -- galaxies: active; starburst; interaction

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