Journal article


Panchromatic observations of the best candidate hyperluminous infrared galaxies from the widest Herschel extragalactic imaging survey have led to the discovery of at least four intrinsically luminous z = 2.41 galaxies across an approximate to 100 kpc region-a cluster of starbursting protoellipticals. Via subarcsecond interferometric imaging we have measured accurate gas and star formation surface densities. The two brightest galaxies span similar to 3 kpc FWHM in submillimeter/radio continuum and CO J = 4-3, and double that in CO J = 1-0. The broad CO line is due partly to the multitude of constituent galaxies and partly to large rotational velocities in two counter-rotating gas disks-a scenario predicted to lead to the most intense starbursts, which will therefore come in pairs. The disks have M-dyn of several x 10(11) M-circle dot, and gas fractions of similar to 40%. Velocity dispersions are modest so the disks are unstable, potentially on scales commensurate with their radii: these galaxies are undergoing extreme bursts of star formation, not confined to their nuclei, at close to the Eddington limit. Their specific star formation rates place them greater than or similar to 5x above the main sequence, which supposedly comprises large gas disks like these. Their high star formation efficiencies are difficult to reconcile with a simple volumetric star formation law. N-body and dark matter simulations suggest that this system is the progenitor of a B(inary)-type approximate to 10(14.6)-M-circle dot cluster.


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