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Red but not dead: unveiling the star-forming far-infrared spectral energy distribution of SpARCS brightest cluster galaxies at 0 < z < 1.8

Bonaventura, N. R. and Webb, T. M. A. and Muzzin, A. and Noble, A. and Lidman, C. and Wilson, G. and Yee, H. K. C. and Geach, J. and Hezaveh, Y. and Shupe, D. and Surace, J. (2017) Red but not dead: unveiling the star-forming far-infrared spectral energy distribution of SpARCS brightest cluster galaxies at 0 < z < 1.8. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 469 (2). pp. 1259-1281. ISSN 0035-8711. doi:10.1093/mnras/stx722.

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We present the results of a Spitzer/Herschel infrared photometric analysis of the largest (716) and the highest-redshift (z = 1.8) sample of brightest cluster galaxies (BCGs), those from the Spitzer Adaptation of the Red-Sequence Cluster Survey Given the tension that exists between model predictions and recent observations of BCGs at z < 2, we aim to uncover the dominant physical mechanism(s) guiding the stellar mass buildup of this special class of galaxies, the most massive in the Universe and uniquely residing at the centres of galaxy clusters. Through a comparison of their stacked, broad-band, infrared spectral energy distributions (SEDs) to a variety of model templates in the literature, we identify the major sources of their infrared energy output, in multiple redshift bins between 0 < z < 1.8. We derive estimates of various BCG physical parameters from the stacked νLν SEDs, from which we infer a star-forming, as opposed to a ‘red and dead’ population of galaxies, producing tens to hundreds of solar masses per year down to z = 0.5. This discovery challenges the accepted belief that BCGs should only passively evolve through a series of gas-poor, minor mergers since z ∼ 4, but agrees with an improved semi-analytic model of hierarchical structure formation that predicts star-forming BCGs throughout the epoch considered. We attribute the star formation inferred from the stacked infrared SEDs to both major and minor ‘wet’ (gas-rich) mergers, based on a lack of key signatures (to date) of cooling-flow-induced star formation, as well as a number of observational and simulation-based studies that support this scenario.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Muzzin, A.0000-0002-9330-9108
Noble, A.0000-0003-1832-4137
Lidman, C.0000-0003-1731-0497
Geach, J.0000-0003-4964-4635
Shupe, D.0000-0003-4401-0430
Surace, J.0000-0001-7291-0087
Additional Information:© 2017 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2017 March 22. Received 2017 March 21; in original form 2016 July 18. Published: 24 March 2017. The authors thank Chiara Tonini for providing the BCG model data referenced from T12. G. Wilson acknowledges financial support for this work from National Science Foundation grant AST-1517863 and from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through programs GO-13306, GO-13677, GO-13747 and GO-13845/14327 from the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by AURA, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASANAS 5-26555
Subject Keywords:galaxies: clusters: general – galaxies: evolution – galaxies: formation – galaxies: photometry – galaxies: star formation – infrared: galaxies
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170828-074937096
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:N. R. Bonaventura, T. M. A. Webb, A. Muzzin, A. Noble, C. Lidman, G. Wilson, H. K. C. Yee, J. Geach, Y. Hezaveh, D. Shupe, J. Surace; Red but not dead: unveiling the star-forming far-infrared spectral energy distribution of SpARCS brightest cluster galaxies at 0 < z < 1.8, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 469, Issue 2, 1 August 2017, Pages 1259–1281,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:80829
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:28 Aug 2017 19:10
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 19:39

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