A spectroscopically confirmed excess of 24 μm sources in a super galaxy group at z = 0.37: Enhanced dusty star formation relative to the cluster and field environment

Kim Vy H. Tran, Amélie Saintonge, John Moustakas, Lei Bai, Anthony H. Gonzalez, Bradford P. Holden, Dennis Zaritsky, Stefan J. Kautsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


To trace how dust-obscured star formation varies with environment, we compare the fraction of 24 μm sources in a super galaxy group to the field and a rich galaxy cluster at z ∼ 0.35. We draw on multi-wavelength observations9Based on observations made with (1) The ESO telescopes at Paranal Observatories under program IDs 072.A-0367, 076.B-0362, 078.B-0409; (2) the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (GO-10499); STScI is operated by the association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. under the NASA contract NAS 5-26555; (3) the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with NASA; support for this work was provided by NASA through an award issued by JPL/Caltech (GO-20683); (4) the Chandra X-ray Observatory Center, which is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for and on behalf of the National Aeronautics Space Administration under contract NAS8-03060; and (5) the Magellan 6.5 m telescope operated by OCIW. that combine Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer imaging with extensive optical spectroscopy (>1800 redshifts) to isolate galaxies in each environment and thus ensure a uniform analysis. We focus on the four galaxy groups (σ1D = 303-580 km s -1) in supergroup 1120-12 that will merge to form a galaxy cluster comparable in mass to Coma. We find that (1) the fraction of supergroup galaxies with SFRIR ≥ 3 M yr-1 is 4 times higher than in the cluster (32% ± 5% versus 7% 2%); (2) the supergroup's infrared luminosity function confirms that it has a higher density of IR members compared to the cluster and includes bright IR sources (log(L IR)[erg s-1] >45) not found in galaxy clusters at z ≲ 0.35; and (3) there is a strong trend of decreasing 24 μm fraction with increasing galaxy density, i.e., an infrared-density relation, not observed in the cluster. These dramatic differences are surprising because the early-type fraction in the supergroup is already as high as in clusters, i.e., the timescales for morphological transformation cannot be strongly coupled to when the star formation is completely quenched. The supergroup has a significant fraction (17%) of luminous, low-mass (10.0 < log(M *)[M ] < 10.6), SFRIR ≥ 3 M yr-1 members that are outside the group cores (R proj ≥ 0.5Mpc); once their star formation is quenched, most will evolve into faint red galaxies. Our analysis indicates that the supergroup's 24 μm population also differs from that in the field: (1) despite the supergroup having twice the fraction of E/S0s as the field, the fraction of SFRIR ≥ 3 M yr-1 galaxies is comparable in both environments, and (2) the supergroup's IR luminosity function has a higher L*IR than that previously measured for the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)809-820
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Galaxies: Clusters: general
  • Galaxies: Clusters: individual (SG1120-1202)
  • Galaxies: Luminosity function, mass function
  • Galaxies: Starburst
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Infrared: Galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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