Place: 4421 Sterling Hall, Coffee and Cookies 3:30 pm, Talk begins at 3:45 PM
Speaker: Sabine Koenig, Chalmers University
Abstract: Galaxy evolution is a fundamental part of the overall evolution of the Universe - from the largest spatial scales (ruled by dark matter), to the smallest dominated by dissipative baryons that can form stars and grow supermassive black holes (SMBHs). Interactions and mergers are a known and efficient mechanism for galaxy growth. The focus on merger studies often lies on major mergers (equal mass progenitors) and their evolution although minor mergers (unequal mass progenitors) occur much more frequently. The impact of minor mergers on the growth of SMBHs and star formation is profound - about half of the star formation activity in the local Universe is the result of minor mergers. Studying molecular gas properties in these systems, especially how molecular gas is feeding starburst and AGN activities, therefore gives us important clues to the onset and evolution of interaction-triggered starbursts. Understanding how gas is feeding starburst and AGN activities in these objects, in particular, is paramount to understand the overall evolution of the Universe. In this talk I will present an overview of the molecular gas properties of two exceptional minor mergers: NGC 1614 and the Medusa merger.