We study the orientations of satellite galaxies in redMaPPer clusters constructed from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey at 0.1 < z < 0.35 to determine whether there is any preferential tendency for satellites to point radially towards cluster centres. We analyse the satellite alignment (SA) signal based on three shape measurement methods (re-Gaussianization, de Vaucouleurs, and isophotal shapes), which trace galaxy light profiles at different radii. The measured SA signal depends on these shape measurement methods. We detect the strongest SA signal in isophotal shapes, followed by de Vaucouleurs shapes. While no net SA signal is detected using re- Gaussianization shapes across the entire sample, the observed SA signal reaches a statistically significant level when limiting to a subsample of higher luminosity satellites. We further investigate the impact of noise, systematics, and real physical isophotal twisting effects in the comparison between the SA signal detected via different shape measurement methods. Unlike previous studies, which only consider the dependence of SA on a few parameters, here we explore a total of 17 galaxy and cluster properties, using a statistical model averaging technique to naturally account for parameter correlations and identify significant SA predictors. We find that the measured SA signal is strongest for satellites with the following characteristics: higher luminosity, smaller distance to the cluster centre, rounder in shape, higher bulge fraction, and distributed preferentially along the major axis directions of their centrals. Finally, we provide physical explanations for the identified dependences and discuss the connection to theories of SA.
- Galaxies: clusters: general
- Large-scale structure of universe
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science