Volume 483, Number 3, June I 2008
|Page(s)||727 - 739|
|Section||Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)|
|Published online||26 March 2008|
Diffuse stellar emission in X-ray luminous galaxy clusters at z ~ 0.3
I. Is the diffuse optical light boosted and rejuvenated in merging clusters?
Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstrasse, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany e-mail: [dpierini;fbraglia;hxb;alexis]@mpe.mpg.de
2 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3 ESO, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany e-mail: email@example.com
4 Argelander-Institut für Astronomie, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 19 March 2008
Context. Clusters of galaxies host a diffuse population of intergalactic stars. Diffuse optical light is observed in clusters up to redshift . Recent cosmological hydrodynamical simulations show that this intracluster light originates nearly in parallel with the build-up of the brightest cluster galaxy (BCG), as identified at . However, theory proposes alternative scenarios for its origin.
Aims. We searched for diffuse stellar emission around BCGs in three of the most X-ray luminous clusters found at in the REFLEX cluster survey and observed with XMM-Newton . These systems (RXC J0014.3-3022, RXC J0232.2-4420, and RXC J2308.3-0211) are in different dynamical states, as witnessed by their X-ray morphology and optical appearence (e.g. multiplicity of BCGs).
Methods. Existing medium-deep, wide-field imaging in B and R bands allows extension, intensity, and colour of the stellar emission to be determined across a region that encompasses the X-ray emission from the intracluster medium (ICM) in each cluster.
Results. Diffuse stellar emission is robustly detected down to a surface brightness of 26 R- (observed frame) around a total of seven BCGs, extending up to galactocentric distances of ~. In particular, it surrounds a pair of BCGs in RXC J0232.2-4420, while it bridges two BCGs associated with the minor subcomponent of the merging cluster RXC J0014.3-3022. The diffuse light detected at the greatest distances from the BCGs of the rather regular clusters RXC J0232.2-4420 and RXC J2308.3-0211 follows the ICM distribution. Its colour is consistent with the colours measured within the BCG effective radii. The diffuse light around the two pairs of BCGs in RXC J0014.3-3022 exhibits bluer colours than the BCG central regions by up to 0.5 mag.
Conclusions. If the contribution of the intracluster light (ICL) to the detected diffuse light around BCGs is not negligible, ICL and BCGs have similar stellar populations in relatively relaxed clusters. Merging on a cluster scale eventually adds gravitational stresses to BCGs and other galaxies in subcluster cores. This event may affect the properties of the diffuse stellar emission around BCGs. Shredding of star-forming, low-metallicity dwarf galaxies is favoured as the cause of the bluer colours of the diffuse stellar component around the two pairs of BCGs in the merging cluster RXC J0014.3-3022.
Key words: X-rays: galaxies: clusters / galaxies: clusters: general / galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: interactions / diffuse radiation
© ESO, 2008
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