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Title: A NOVEL APPROACH TO CONSTRAIN THE MASS RATIO OF MINOR MERGERS IN ELLIPTICAL GALAXIES: APPLICATION TO NGC 4889, THE BRIGHTEST CLUSTER GALAXY IN COMA

Abstract

Minor mergers are thought to be important for the buildup and structural evolution of massive elliptical galaxies. In this work, we report the discovery of a system of four shell features in NGC 4889, one of the brightest members of the Coma cluster, using optical images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The shells are well aligned with the major axis of the host and are likely to have been formed by the accretion of a small satellite galaxy. We have performed a detailed two-dimensional photometric decomposition of NGC 4889 and of the many overlapping nearby galaxies in its vicinity. This comprehensive model allows us not only to firmly detect the low-surface brightness shells, but, crucially, also to accurately measure their luminosities and colors. The shells are bluer than the underlying stars at the same radius in the main galaxy. We make use of the colors of the shells and the color-magnitude relation of the Coma cluster to infer the luminosity (or mass) of the progenitor galaxy. The shells in NGC 4889 appear to have been produced by the minor merger of a moderate-luminosity (M{sub I} Almost-Equal-To -18.7 mag) disk (S0 or spiral) galaxymore » with a luminosity (mass) ratio of {approx}90:1 with respect to the primary galaxy. The novel methodology presented in this work can be exploited to decode the fossil record imprinted in the photometric substructure of other nearby early-type galaxies.« less

Authors:
;  [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. School of Astronomy and Space Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093 (China)
  2. Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, 813 Santa Barbara Street, Pasadena, CA 91101 (United States)
  3. Giant Magellan Telescope Organization, 251 South Lake Avenue, Suite 300, Pasadena, CA 91101 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22140268
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 773; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; BRIGHTNESS; COLOR; DECOMPOSITION; EVOLUTION; GALAXIES; GALAXY CLUSTERS; INTERACTIONS; LUMINOSITY; MASS; PHOTOMETRY; SATELLITES; SPACE; STARS; SURFACES; TELESCOPES; TWO-DIMENSIONAL CALCULATIONS

Citation Formats

Gu Meng, Huang Song, Ho, Luis C., and Peng, Chien Y. A NOVEL APPROACH TO CONSTRAIN THE MASS RATIO OF MINOR MERGERS IN ELLIPTICAL GALAXIES: APPLICATION TO NGC 4889, THE BRIGHTEST CLUSTER GALAXY IN COMA. United States: N. p., 2013. Web. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/773/1/34.
Gu Meng, Huang Song, Ho, Luis C., & Peng, Chien Y. A NOVEL APPROACH TO CONSTRAIN THE MASS RATIO OF MINOR MERGERS IN ELLIPTICAL GALAXIES: APPLICATION TO NGC 4889, THE BRIGHTEST CLUSTER GALAXY IN COMA. United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/773/1/34.
Gu Meng, Huang Song, Ho, Luis C., and Peng, Chien Y. 2013. "A NOVEL APPROACH TO CONSTRAIN THE MASS RATIO OF MINOR MERGERS IN ELLIPTICAL GALAXIES: APPLICATION TO NGC 4889, THE BRIGHTEST CLUSTER GALAXY IN COMA". United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/773/1/34.
@article{osti_22140268,
title = {A NOVEL APPROACH TO CONSTRAIN THE MASS RATIO OF MINOR MERGERS IN ELLIPTICAL GALAXIES: APPLICATION TO NGC 4889, THE BRIGHTEST CLUSTER GALAXY IN COMA},
author = {Gu Meng and Huang Song and Ho, Luis C. and Peng, Chien Y.},
abstractNote = {Minor mergers are thought to be important for the buildup and structural evolution of massive elliptical galaxies. In this work, we report the discovery of a system of four shell features in NGC 4889, one of the brightest members of the Coma cluster, using optical images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The shells are well aligned with the major axis of the host and are likely to have been formed by the accretion of a small satellite galaxy. We have performed a detailed two-dimensional photometric decomposition of NGC 4889 and of the many overlapping nearby galaxies in its vicinity. This comprehensive model allows us not only to firmly detect the low-surface brightness shells, but, crucially, also to accurately measure their luminosities and colors. The shells are bluer than the underlying stars at the same radius in the main galaxy. We make use of the colors of the shells and the color-magnitude relation of the Coma cluster to infer the luminosity (or mass) of the progenitor galaxy. The shells in NGC 4889 appear to have been produced by the minor merger of a moderate-luminosity (M{sub I} Almost-Equal-To -18.7 mag) disk (S0 or spiral) galaxy with a luminosity (mass) ratio of {approx}90:1 with respect to the primary galaxy. The novel methodology presented in this work can be exploited to decode the fossil record imprinted in the photometric substructure of other nearby early-type galaxies.},
doi = {10.1088/0004-637X/773/1/34},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 1,
volume = 773,
place = {United States},
year = 2013,
month = 8
}
  • Using a large N-body cosmological simulation combined with a subgrid treatment of galaxy formation, merging, and tidal destruction, we study the formation and evolution of the galaxy and cluster population in a comoving volume (100 Mpc){sup 3} in a ΛCDM universe. At z = 0, our computational volume contains 1788 clusters with mass M {sub cl} > 1.1 × 10{sup 12} M {sub ☉}, including 18 massive clusters with M {sub cl} > 10{sup 14} M {sub ☉}. It also contains 1, 088, 797 galaxies with mass M {sub gal} ≥ 2 × 10{sup 9} M {sub ☉} and luminositymore » L > 9.5 × 10{sup 5} L {sub ☉}. For each cluster, we identified the brightest cluster galaxy (BCG). We then computed two separate statistics: the fraction f {sub BNC} of clusters in which the BCG is not the closest galaxy to the center of the cluster in projection, and the ratio Δv/σ, where Δv is the difference in radial velocity between the BCG and the whole cluster and σ is the radial velocity dispersion of the cluster. We found that f {sub BNC} increases from 0.05 for low-mass clusters (M {sub cl} ∼ 10{sup 12} M {sub ☉}) to 0.5 for high-mass clusters (M {sub cl} > 10{sup 14} M {sub ☉}) with very little dependence on cluster redshift. Most of this result turns out to be a projection effect and when we consider three-dimensional distances instead of projected distances, f {sub BNC} increases only to 0.2 at high-cluster mass. The values of Δv/σ vary from 0 to 1.8, with median values in the range 0.03-0.15 when considering all clusters, and 0.12-0.31 when considering only massive clusters. These results are consistent with previous observational studies and indicate that the central galaxy paradigm, which states that the BCG should be at rest at the center of the cluster, is usually valid, but exceptions are too common to be ignored. We built merger trees for the 18 most massive clusters in the simulation. Analysis of these trees reveal that 16 of these clusters have experienced 1 or several major or semi-major mergers in the past. These mergers leave each cluster in a non-equilibrium state, but eventually the cluster settles into an equilibrium configuration, unless it is disturbed by another major or semi-major merger. We found evidence that these mergers are responsible for the off-center positions and peculiar velocities of some BCGs. Our results thus support the merging-group scenario, in which some clusters form by the merging of smaller groups in which the galaxies have already formed, including the galaxy destined to become the BCG. Finally, we argue that f {sub BNC} is not a very robust statistics, as it is very sensitive to projection and selection effects, but that Δv/σ is more robust. Still, both statistics exhibit a signature of major mergers between clusters of galaxies.« less
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  • We resolve a significant fraction of globular clusters (GCs) in NGC 4921, the brightest spiral galaxy in the Coma cluster. We also find a number of extended bright star clusters (star complexes) in the spur region of the arms. The latter are much brighter and bluer than those in the normal star-forming region, being as massive as 3 × 10{sup 5} M{sub ⊙}. The color distribution of the GCs in this galaxy is found to be bimodal. The turnover magnitudes of the luminosity functions of the blue (metal-poor) GCs (0.70 < (V − I) ≤ 1.05) in the halo are estimated V(max) = 27.11 ± 0.09 mag and I(max) = 26.21 ± 0.11 mag.more » We obtain similar values for NGC 4923, a companion S0 galaxy, and two Coma cD galaxies (NGC 4874 and NGC 4889). The mean value for the turnover magnitudes of these four galaxies is I(max) = 26.25 ± 0.03 mag. Adopting M{sub I} (max) = −8.56 ± 0.09 mag for the metal-poor GCs, we determine the mean distance to the four Coma galaxies to be 91 ± 4 Mpc. Combining this with the Coma radial velocity, we derive a value of the Hubble constant, H{sub 0} = 77.9 ± 3.6 km s{sup −1} Mpc{sup −1}. We estimate the GC specific frequency of NGC 4921 to be S{sub N} = 1.29 ± 0.25, close to the values for early-type galaxies. This indicates that NGC 4921 is in the transition phase to S0s.« less
  • Using a high-resolution hydrodynamical cosmological simulation of the formation of a massive spheroidal galaxy we show that elliptical galaxies can be very compact and massive at high redshift in agreement with recent observations. Accretion of stripped infalling stellar material increases the size of the system with time and the central concentration is reduced by dynamical friction of the surviving stellar cores. In a specific case of a spheroidal galaxy with a final stellar mass of 1.5 x 10{sup 11} M {sub sun} we find that the effective radius r{sub e} increases from 0.7 {+-} 0.2 kpc at z = 3more » to r{sub e} = 2.4 {+-} 0.4 kpc at z = 0 with a concomitant decrease in the effective density of an order of magnitude and a decrease of the central velocity dispersion by approximately 20% over this time interval. A simple argument based on the virial theorem shows that during the accretion of weakly bound material (minor mergers) the radius can increase as the square of the mass in contrast to the usual linear rate of increase for major mergers. By undergoing minor mergers compact high-redshift spheroids can evolve into present-day systems with sizes and concentrations similar to observed local ellipticals. This indicates that minor mergers may be the main driver for the late evolution of sizes and densities of early-type galaxies.« less