Using the wide field IR camera (WIRC) at the Hale 5m telescope Vassilis Charmandaris, Sara Slater (CU '04) and Martha Haynes have begun a detailed infrared study of the properties of a large sample of groups of galaxies known as Hickson Compact Groups (HCG). The main goal of the project is to examine whether there is an excess of warm IRAS colors in HCG, and show how this may be related to the fact that the galaxies are interacting. We use WIRC to probe the old stellar population in the groups, and we rely on mid-IR imagery of the thermal emission obtained with the Infrared Space Observatory to trace their star formation activity.
Future observations with the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) will be used to greatly improve our knowledge on the star fomation properties of these groups, helping us to bridge the gap between the properties of galaxies in loose groups and those at the cores of galaxy clusters.
Related Publications (soon to come)