Two interacting galaxies hiding as one, revealed by MaNGA

Barbara Mazzilli Ciraulo, Anne Laure Melchior, Daniel Maschmann, Ivan Yu Katkov, Anaëlle Halle, Françoise Combes, Joseph D. Gelfand, Aisha Al Yazeedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given their prominent role in galaxy evolution, it is of paramount importance to unveil galaxy interactions and merger events and to investigate the underlying mechanisms. The use of high-resolution data makes it easier to identify merging systems, but it can still be challenging when the morphology does not show any clear galaxy pair or gas bridge. Characterising the origin of puzzling kinematic features can help reveal complicated systems. Here, we present a merging galaxy, MaNGA 1-114955, in which we highlighted the superimposition of two distinct rotating discs along the line of sight. These counter-rotating objects both lie on the star-forming main sequence but display perturbed stellar velocity dispersions. The main galaxy presents off-centred star formation as well as off-centred high-metallicity regions, supporting the scenario of recent starbursts, while the secondary galaxy hosts a central starburst that coincides with an extended radio emission, in excess with respect to star formation expectations. Stellar mass as well as dynamical mass estimates agree towards a mass ratio within the visible radius of 9:1 for these interacting galaxies. We suggest that we are observing a pre-coalescence stage of a merger. The primary galaxy accreted gas through a past first pericentre passage about 1 Gyr ago and more recently from the secondary gas-rich galaxy, which exhibits an underlying active galactic nucleus. Our results demonstrate how a galaxy can hide another one and the relevance of a multi-component approach for studying ambiguous systems. We anticipate that our method will be efficient at unveiling the mechanisms taking place in a sub-sample of galaxies observed by the Mapping Nearby Galaxies at Apache Point Observatory (MaNGA) survey, all of which exhibit kinematic features of a puzzling origin in their gas emission lines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA47
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • Galaxies: interactions
  • Galaxy: evolution
  • Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics
  • Methods: data analysis
  • Techniques: spectroscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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