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Spectral gradients in central cluster galaxies: further evidence of star formation in cooling flows

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Cardiel López, Nicolás and Gorgas García, Francisco Javier and Aragón Salamanca, A. (1998) Spectral gradients in central cluster galaxies: further evidence of star formation in cooling flows. Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 298 (4). pp. 977-996. ISSN 0035-8711

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-8711.1998.01688.x




Abstract

We have obtained radial gradients in the spectral features of the lambda 4000-Angstrom break (D(4000)) and Mg(2) for a sample of 11 central cluster galaxies (CCGs): eight in clusters with cooling flows and three in clusters without. After careful removal of the emission lines found within the D(4000) and Mg(2) bandpasses for some objects, the new data strongly confirm the correlations between line-strength indices and the cooling flow phenomenon found in our earlier study. We find that such correlations depend on the presence and characteristics of emission lines in the inner regions of the CCGs. The nuclear indices are correlated with the mass deposition rate ((M) over dot) only when emission lines are found in the central regions of the galaxies. The central D(4000) and Mg(2) indices in cooling flow galaxies without emission lines are completely consistent with the indices measured in CCGs in clusters without cooling flows. CCGs in cooling flow clusters exhibit a clear sequence in the D(4000)-Mg(2) plane, with a neat segregation depending on emission-line type and blue morphology. This sequence can be modelled, using stellar population models with a normal initial mass function (IMF), by a recent (similar to 0.1 Gyr old) burst of star formation, although model uncertainties do not allow us to completely discard continuous star formation or a series of bursts over the last few Gyr. In CCGs with emission lines, the gradients in the spectral indices are flat or positive inside the emission-line regions, suggesting the presence of young stars. Outside the emission-line regions, and in cooling flow galaxies without emission lines, gradients are negative and consistent with those measured in CCGs in clusters without cooling hows and giant elliptical galaxies. Index gradients measured exclusively in the emission-line region correlate with hi. Using the same population models we have estimated the radial profiles of the mass transformed into new stars. The derived profiles are remarkably parallel to the expected radial behaviour of the mass deposition rate derived from X-ray observations. Moreover, a large fraction (probably most) of the cooling flow gas accreted into the emission-line region is converted into stars. In the Light of these new data, we discuss the evolutionary sequence suggested by McNamara, in which radio-triggered star formation bursts take place several times during the lifetime of the cooling flow. We conclude that this scenario is consistent with the available observations.


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This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Journal © 1998 RAS. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Valuable discussions with Steven Allen, Carolin Crawford, Alastair Edge, Andy Fabian, Roderick Johnstone, Paul Nulsen, Jesús Gallego and Armando Gil de Paz are gratefully acknowledged. We thank Brian McNamara for a careful reading of the manuscript, and Clovis Peres for kindly providing the mass deposition rates and cooling radii employed in this paper prior to their publication. NCL would like to thank the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, for its hospitality. The WHT is operated on the island of La Palma by the Royal Greenwich Observatory at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. The Calar Alto Observatory is operated jointly by the Max-Planck-Institute für Astronomie, Heidelberg, and the Spanish Comisión Nacional de Astronomía. This work was supported in part by the Spanish ‘Programa Sectorial de Promoción del Conocimiento’ under grant No. PB96-610. AAS acknowledges generous financial support from the Royal Society.

Uncontrolled Keywords:Stellar population gradients; Ray brightest clusters; Emission-line nebulae; Nearby abell clusters; Elliptic galaxies; Cold clouds; CD-galaxy; Hydra-A; Optical spectroscopy; Dominant galaxies
Subjects:Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
Sciences > Physics > Astronomy
ID Code:29946
Deposited On:18 May 2015 11:39
Last Modified:10 Dec 2018 15:05

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