Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

The Astrophysical Journal


We present a multiwavelength study of the highly evolved compact galaxy group known as Seyfert's Sextet (HCG79: SS). We interpret SS as a 2-3 Gyr more evolved analog of Stephan's Quintet (HCG92: SQ). We postulate that SS formed by sequential acquisition of 4-5 primarily late-type field galaxies. Four of the five galaxies show an early-type morphology which is likely the result of secular evolution driven by gas stripping. Stellar stripping has produced a massive/luminous halo and embedded galaxies that are overluminous for their size. These are interpreted as remnant bulges of the accreted spirals. H79d could be interpreted as the most recent intruder, being the only galaxy with an intact interstellar medium (ISM) and uncertain evidence for tidal perturbation. In addition to stripping activity we find evidence for past accretion events. H79b (NGC6027) shows a strong counter-rotating emission line component interpreted as an accreted dwarf spiral. H79a shows evidence for an infalling component of gas representing feedback or possible cross-fueling by H79d. The biggest challenge to this scenario involves the low gas fraction in the group. If SS formed from normal field spirals then much of the gas is missing. Finally, despite its advanced stage of evolution, we find no evidence for major mergers and infer that SS (and SQ) are telling us that such groups coalesce via slow dissolution.


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