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Physics and Astronomy


Statistical studies of galaxy-galaxy interactions often utilize net change in physical properties of progenitors as a function of the separation between their nuclei to trace both the strength and the observable time-scale of their interaction. In this study, we use two-point auto-, cross-, and mark-correlation functions to investigate the extent to which small-scale clustering properties of star-forming galaxies can be used to gain physical insight into galaxy-galaxy interactions between galaxies of similar optical brightness and stellar mass. The Ha star formers, drawn from the highly spatially complete Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey, show an increase in clustering at small separations. Moreover, the clustering strength shows a strong dependence on optical brightness and stellar mass, where (1) the clustering amplitude of optically brighter galaxies at a given separation is larger than that of optically fainter systems, (2) the small-scale-clustering properties (e.g. the strength, the scale at which the signal relative to the fiducial power law plateaus) of star-forming galaxies appear to differ as a function of increasing optical brightness of galaxies. According to cross- and mark-correlation analyses, the former result is largely driven by the increased dust content in optically bright star-forming galaxies. The latter could be interpreted as evidence of a correlation between interaction scale and optical brightness of galaxies, where physical evidence of interactions between optically bright star formers, likely hosted within relatively massive haloes, persists over larger separations than those between optically faint star formers.