The Arecibo Galaxy Environment Survey XII : Optically dark HI clouds in the Leo I Group

Rhys Taylor, Joachim Koppen, Pavel Jachym, Robert Minchin, Jan Palous, Jessica Rosenberg, Steven Schneider, Richard Wunsch, Boris Deshev

Submitted on 22 September 2022


Using data from the Arecibo Galaxy Environment Survey, we report the discovery of five HI clouds in the Leo I group without detected optical counterparts. Three of the clouds are found midway between M96 and M95, one is only 10 from the south-east side of the well-known Leo Ring, and the fifth is relatively isolated. HI masses range from 2.6×106 - 9.0×106M and velocity widths (W50) from 16 - 42 km/s. Although a tidal origin is the most obvious explanation, this formation mechanism faces several challenges. For the most isolated cloud, the difficulties are its distance from neighbouring galaxies and the lack of any signs of disturbance in the HI discs of those systems. Some of the clouds also appear to follow the baryonic Tully-Fisher relation between mass and velocity width for normal, stable galaxies which is not expected if they are tidal in origin. Three clouds are found between M96 and M95 which have no optical counterparts, but have otherwise similar properties and location to the optically detected galaxy LeG 13. While overall we favour a tidal debris scenario to explain the clouds, we cannot rule out a primordial origin. If the clouds were produced in the same event that gave rise to the Leo Ring, they may provide important constraints on any model attempting to explain that structure


Comment: 16 pages (plus 4 page appendix), 1 table, 7 figures, accepted for publication in AJ

Subject: Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies