Fossil Hunting: Intracluster Stars in Virgo

Eric Murphy, Carrie Bridge, Vandana Desai, Jeffrey Kenney, Jessica Krick, Jason Surace, Jacqueline van Gorkom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In dense clusters, galaxy interactions and mergers play a significant role in galaxy evolution. During these interactions, tidal forces can lead to the ejection of stars from their parent galaxies; these stars are a fossil record of environmentally-driven galaxy evolution. We propose to map the intracluster light (ICL) at 3.6 and 4.5um using IRAC over a square degree near the Virgo cluster core previously mapped in V-band by Mihos et al. (2005). While this study has illuminated the wealth and complexity of stellar structures in Virgo's core, the addition of IRAC data will allow us, for the first time, to: 1) accurately measure the stellar mass of the intracluster stars (ICS), constraining chemical enrichment models; 2) measure the colors of the ICS to constrain the relative ages and origins of the ICS structures; 3) identify and characterize the stellar counterparts of recently discovered gas filaments; and 4) make detailed comparisons between the atomic gas and stellar mass distribution of the cluster core, thereby providing a benchmark for cosmological simulations that trace structure formation. This program will help to elucidate our understanding of how cluster galaxies evolve, and how the ICM is affected by the removal of stars, metals, gas, and dust from in-falling galaxies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60173
JournalSpitzer Proposal
Publication statusPublished - 1-Apr-2009

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