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The late stellar assembly of massive cluster galaxies via major merging


Tran, K V H; Moustakas, J; Gonzalez, A H; Bai, L; Zaritsky, D; Kautsch, S J (2008). The late stellar assembly of massive cluster galaxies via major merging. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 683(1):L17-L20.

Abstract

We present multiwavelength observations of the brightest galaxies in four X-ray-luminous groups at z ~ 0.37 that will merge to form a cluster comparable in mass to Coma. Ordered by increasing stellar mass, the four brightest group galaxies (BGGs) present a time sequence where BGG-1, 2, and 3 are in merging systems and BGG-4 is a massive remnant (M* = 6.7 × 1011 Msun). BGG-1 and 2 have bright, gravitationally bound companions and BGG-3 has two nuclei separated by only 2.5 kpc; thus, merging at z < 0.5 increases the BGG mass by gtrsim40% (tMGR < 2 Gyr) and V-band luminosity by ~0.4 mag. The BGGs' rest-frame (B − V) colors correspond to stellar ages of >3 Gyr, and their tight scatter in (B − V) color (σBV = 0.032) confirms that they formed the bulk of their stars at z > 0.9. Optical spectroscopy shows no signs of recent (< 1.5 Gyr) or ongoing star formation. Only two BGGs are weakly detected at 24 μm, and X-ray and optical data indicate that the emission in BGG-2 is due to an AGN. All four BGGs and their companions are early-type (bulge-dominated) galaxies, and they are embedded in diffuse stellar envelopes up to ~140 kpc across. The four BGG systems must evolve into the massive, red, early-type galaxies dominating local clusters. Our results show that (1) massive galaxies in groups and clusters form via dissipationless merging and (2) the group environment is critical for this process.

We present multiwavelength observations of the brightest galaxies in four X-ray-luminous groups at z ~ 0.37 that will merge to form a cluster comparable in mass to Coma. Ordered by increasing stellar mass, the four brightest group galaxies (BGGs) present a time sequence where BGG-1, 2, and 3 are in merging systems and BGG-4 is a massive remnant (M* = 6.7 × 1011 Msun). BGG-1 and 2 have bright, gravitationally bound companions and BGG-3 has two nuclei separated by only 2.5 kpc; thus, merging at z < 0.5 increases the BGG mass by gtrsim40% (tMGR < 2 Gyr) and V-band luminosity by ~0.4 mag. The BGGs' rest-frame (B − V) colors correspond to stellar ages of >3 Gyr, and their tight scatter in (B − V) color (σBV = 0.032) confirms that they formed the bulk of their stars at z > 0.9. Optical spectroscopy shows no signs of recent (< 1.5 Gyr) or ongoing star formation. Only two BGGs are weakly detected at 24 μm, and X-ray and optical data indicate that the emission in BGG-2 is due to an AGN. All four BGGs and their companions are early-type (bulge-dominated) galaxies, and they are embedded in diffuse stellar envelopes up to ~140 kpc across. The four BGG systems must evolve into the massive, red, early-type galaxies dominating local clusters. Our results show that (1) massive galaxies in groups and clusters form via dissipationless merging and (2) the group environment is critical for this process.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute for Computational Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Language:English
Date:August 2008
Deposited On:06 Mar 2009 13:36
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:07
Publisher:Institute of Physics Publishing
ISSN:2041-8205
Publisher DOI:10.1086/591422
Related URLs:http://arxiv.org/abs/0806.4387
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-16772

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