LoCuSS: The mid-infrared butcher-oemler effect

C. P. Haines, G. P. Smith, E. Egami, R. S. Ellis, S. M. Moran, A. J.R. Sanderson, P. Merluzzi, G. Busarello, R. J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


We study the mid-infrared (MIR) properties of galaxies in 30 massive galaxy clusters at 0.02 ≤ z ≤ 0.40, using panoramic Spitzer/MIPS 24 μm and near-infrared data, including 27 new observations from the LoCuSS and ACCESS surveys. This is the largest sample of clusters to date with such high-quality and uniform MIR data covering not only the cluster cores, but extending into the infall regions. We use these data to revisit the so-called Butcher-Oemler (BO) effect, measuring the fraction of massive infrared luminous galaxies (K < K* + 1.5, L IR > 5 × 1010 L) within r 200, finding a steady increase in the fraction with redshift from 3% at z = 0.02 to ∼ 10% by z = 0.30, and an rms cluster-to-cluster scatter about this trend of 0.03. The best-fit redshift evolution model of the form f SF (1 + z)n has n = 5.7+2.1 -1.8, which is stronger redshift evolution than that of L IR in both clusters and the field. We find that, statistically, this excess is associated with galaxies found at large cluster-centric radii, specifically r 500 < r < r 200, implying that the MIR BO effect can be explained by a combination of both the global decline in star formation in the universe since z ∼ 1 and enhanced star formation in the infall regions of clusters at intermediate redshifts. This picture is supported by a simple infall model based on the Millennium Simulation semianalytic galaxy catalogs, whereby star formation in infalling galaxies is instantaneously quenched upon their first passage through the cluster, in that the observed radial trends of f SF trace those inferred from the simulations. The observed f SF values, however, lie systematically above the predictions, suggesting an overall excess of star formation, either due to triggering by environmental processes, or a gradual quenching. We also find that f SF does not depend on simple indicators of the dynamical state of clusters, including the offset between the brightest cluster galaxy and the peak of the X-ray emission. This is consistent with the picture described above in that most new star formation in clusters occurs in the infall regions, and is thus not sensitive to the details of cluster-cluster mergers in the core regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-136
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: clusters: general
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: stellar content Online-only material: color figures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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