The optical green valley versus mid-infrared canyon in compact groups

Lisa May Walker, Natalie Butterfield, Kelsey Johnson, Catherine Zucker, Sarah Gallagher, Iraklis Konstantopoulos, Ann Zabludoff, Ann E. Hornschemeier, Panayiotis Tzanavaris, Jane C. Charlton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Compact groups of galaxies provide conditions similar to those experienced by galaxies in the earlier universe. Recent work on compact groups has led to the discovery of a dearth of mid-infrared transition galaxies (MIRTGs) in Infrared Array Camera (3.6-8.0 μm) color space as well as at intermediate specific star formation rates. However, we find that in compact groups these MIRTGs have already transitioned to the optical ([g-r]) red sequence. We investigate the optical color-magnitude diagram (CMD) of 99 compact groups containing 348 galaxies and compare the optical CMD with mid-infrared (mid-IR) color space for compact group galaxies. Utilizing redshifts available from Sloan Digital Sky Survey, we identified new galaxy members for four groups. By combining optical and mid-IR data, we obtain information on both the dust and the stellar populations in compact group galaxies. We also compare with more isolated galaxies and galaxies in the Coma Cluster, which reveals that, similar to clusters, compact groups are dominated by optically red galaxies. While we find that compact group transition galaxies lie on the optical red sequence, LVL+SINGS mid-IR transition galaxies span the range of optical colors. The dearth of mid-IR transition galaxies in compact groups may be due to a lack of moderately star-forming low mass galaxies; the relative lack of these galaxies could be due to their relatively small gravitational potential wells. This makes them more susceptible to this dynamic environment, thus causing them to more easily lose gas or be accreted by larger members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number129
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: groups: general
  • galaxies: interactions
  • galaxies: photometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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