The SAMI Galaxy Survey: Quenching of star formation in clusters I. Transition galaxies

We use integral field spectroscopy from the SAMI Galaxy Survey to identify galaxies that show evidence for recent quenching of star formation. The galaxies exhibit strong Balmer absorption in the absence of ongoing star formation in more than 10% of their spectra within the SAMI field of view. These Hδ-strong galaxies (HDSGs) are rare, making up only ∼2% (25/1220) of galaxies with stellar mass log(M∗/M⊙)>10. The HDSGs make up a significant fraction of non-passive cluster galaxies (15%; 17/115) and a smaller fraction (2.0%; 8/387) of the non-passive population in low-density environments. The majority (9/17) of cluster HDSGs show evidence for star formation at their centers, with the HDS regions found in the outer parts of the galaxy. Conversely, the Hδ-strong signal is more evenly spread across the galaxy for the majority (6/8) of HDSGs in low-density environments, and is often associated with emission lines that are not due to star formation. We investigate the location of the HDSGs in the clusters, finding that they are exclusively within 0.6R200 of the cluster centre, and have a significantly higher velocity dispersion relative to the cluster population. Comparing their distribution in projected-phase-space to those derived from cosmological simulations indicates that the cluster HDSGs are consistent with an infalling population that have entered the central 0.5r200,3D cluster region within the last ∼1Gyr. In the 8/9 cluster HDSGs with central star formation, the extent of star formation is consistent with that expected of outside-in quenching by ram-pressure stripping. Our results indicate that the cluster HDSGs are currently being quenched by ram-pressure stripping on their first passage through the cluster.

Publication Date: 
March 2019