Isolated compact groups (CGs) of galaxies present a range of dynamical states, group velocity dispersions, and galaxy morphologies with which to study galaxy evolution, particularly the properties of gas both within the galaxies and in the intragroup medium. As part of a large, multiwavelength examination of CGs, we present an archival study of diffuse X-ray emission in a subset of nine Hickson compact groups (HCGs) observed with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. We find that seven of the groups in our sample exhibit detectable diffuse emission. However, unlike large-scale emission in galaxy clusters, the diffuse features in the majority of the detected groups are linked to the individual galaxies, in the form of both plumes and halos likely as a result of vigourous star formation or activity in the galaxy nucleus, as well as in emission from tidal features. Unlike previous studies from earlier X-ray missions, HCGs 31, 42, 59, and 92 are found to be consistent with the LX -T relationship from clusters within the errors, while HCGs 16 and 31 are consistent with the cluster LX -σ relation, though this is likely coincidental given that the hot gas in these two systems is largely due to star formation. We find that LX increases with decreasing group H I to dynamical-mass ratio with tentative evidence for a dependence in X-ray luminosity on H I morphology whereby systems with intragroup H I indicative of strong interactions are considerably more X-ray luminous than passively evolving groups. We also find a gap in the LX of groups as a function of the total group specific star formation rate. Our findings suggest that the hot gas in these groups is not in hydrostatic equilibrium and these systems are not low-mass analogs of rich groups or clusters, with the possible exception of HCG 62.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science