M/L, Hα Rotation Curves, and H I Gas Measurements for 329 Nearby Cluster and Field Spirals. II. Evidence for Galaxy Infall
We have conducted a study of optical and H I properties of spiral galaxies (size, luminosity, Hα flux distribution, circular velocity, and H I gas mass) to explore the role of gas stripping as a driver of morphological evolution in clusters. We find a strong correlation between the spiral and S0 fractions within clusters, and the spiral fraction scales tightly with cluster X-ray gas luminosity. We explore young star formation and identify spirals that are (1) asymmetric, with truncated Hα emission and H I gas reservoirs on the leading edge of the disk, on a first pass through the dense intracluster medium in the cores of rich clusters; (2) strongly H I deficient and stripped, with star formation confined to the inner 5 h-1 kpc and 3 disk scale lengths; or (3) reddened, extremely H I deficient, and quenched, where star formation has been halted across the entire disk. We propose that these spirals are in successive stages of morphological transformation, between infalling field spirals and cluster S0's, and that the process that acts to remove the H I gas reservoir suppresses new star formation on a similarly fast timescale. These data suggest that gas stripping plays a significant role in morphological transformation and rapid truncation of star formation across the disk.