In a new H I imaging survey of Virgo galaxies (VIVA: VLA Imaging of Virgo galaxies in Atomic gas), we find seven spiral galaxies with long H I tails. The morphology varies, but all the tails are extended well beyond the optical radii on one side. These galaxies are found in intermediate- to low-density regions (0.6-1 Mpc in projection from M87). The tails are all pointing roughly away from M87, suggesting that these tails may have been created by a global cluster mechanism. While the tidal effects of the cluster potential are too small, a rough estimate suggests that simple ram pressure stripping could have indeed formed the tails in all but two cases. At least three systems show H I truncation to within the stellar disk, providing evidence of a gas-gas interaction. Although most of these galaxies do not appear disturbed optically, some have close neighbors, suggesting that tidal interactions may have moved gas outward, making it more susceptible to the intracluster medium ram pressure or viscosity. Indeed, a simulation study of one of the tail galaxies, NGC 4654, suggests that the galaxy is most likely affected by the combined effect of a gravitational interaction and ram pressure stripping. We conclude that these one-sided H I tail galaxies have recently arrived in the cluster, falling in on highly radial orbits. It appears that galaxies begin to lose their gas already at intermediate distances from the cluster center through ram pressure or turbulent viscous stripping and tidal interactions with their neighbors, or a combination of both.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science