MUSE sneaks a peek at extreme ram-pressure stripping events. I. A kinematic study of the archetypal galaxy ESO137-001
We present MUSE observations of ESO137-001, a spiral galaxy infalling towards the center of the massive Norma cluster at z~0.0162. During the high-velocity encounter of ESO137-001 with the intracluster medium, a dramatic ram-pressure stripping event gives rise to an extended gaseous tail, traced by our MUSE observations to >30 kpc from the galaxy center. By studying the H-alpha surface brightness and kinematics in tandem with the stellar velocity field, we conclude that ram pressure has completely removed the interstellar medium from the outer disk, while the primary tail is still fed by gas from the galaxy center. Gravitational interactions do not appear to be a primary mechanism for gas removal. The stripped gas retains the imprint of the disk rotational velocity to ~20 kpc downstream, offering evidence that ESO137-001 is fast moving along a radial orbit in the plane of the sky. Beyond ~20 kpc, a greater degree of turbulence is seen, with velocity dispersion up to >100 km/s. For a model-dependent infall velocity of ~3000 km/s, we conclude that the transition from laminar to turbulent flow in the tail occurs on timescales of ~6.5 Myr. Our work demonstrates the terrific potential of MUSE for detailed studies of how ram-pressure stripping operates on small scales, providing a deep understanding of how galaxies interact with the dense plasma of the cluster environment.