Gas stripping in galaxy groups - the case of the starburst spiral NGC 2276

Jesper Rasmussen, Trevor Ponman, JS Mulchaey

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85 Citations (Scopus)


Ram-pressure stripping of galactic gas is generally assumed to be inefficient in galaxy groups due to the relatively low density of the intragroup medium (IGM) and the small velocity dispersions of groups. To test this assumption, we obtained Chandra X-ray data of the starbursting spiral NGC 2276 in the NGC 2300 group of galaxies, a candidate for a strong galaxy interaction with hot intragroup gas. The data reveal a shock-like feature along the western edge of the galaxy and a low surface brightness tail extending to the east, similar to the morphology seen in other wavebands. Spatially resolved spectroscopy shows that the data are consistent with intragroup gas being pressurized at the leading western edge of NGC 2276 due to the galaxy moving supersonically through the IGM at a velocity similar to 850 km s(-1). Detailed modelling of the gravitational potential of NGC 2276 shows that the resulting ram pressure could significantly affect the morphology of the outer gas disc but is probably insufficient to strip large amounts of cold gas from the disc. We estimate the mass-loss rates due to turbulent viscous stripping and starburst outflows being swept back by ram pressure, showing that both mechanisms could plausibly explain the presence of the X-ray tail. Comparison to existing H I measurements shows that most of the gas escaping the galaxy is in a hot phase. With a total mass-loss rate of similar to 5 M-circle dot yr(-1), the galaxy could be losing its entire present H I supply within a Gyr. This demonstrates that the removal of galactic gas through interactions with a hot IGM can occur rapidly enough to transform the morphology of galaxies in groups. Implications of this for galaxy evolution in groups and clusters are briefly discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-467
Number of pages15
JournalRoyal Astronomical Society. Monthly Notices
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2006


  • galaxies : individual : NGC 2276
  • X-rays : galaxies : clusters
  • X-rays : galaxies
  • galaxies : interactions
  • galaxies : spiral
  • galaxies : evolution


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