Revisiting brightest cluster galaxy evolution with the Las Campanas distant cluster survey

Amy E. Nelson, Anthony H. Gonzalez, Dennis Zaritsky, Julianne J. Dalcanton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


We investigate the influence of environment on brightest cluster galaxy (BCG) evolution using a sample of 63 clusters at 0.3 ≤ z ≤ 0.9 drawn primarily from the Las Campanas Distant Cluster Survey and follow-up V, I, and K′ photometry. The luminosity evolution of the entire BCG sample is not adequately described by a single evolutionary model. Using the integrated light from the cluster detection as a proxy for cluster Lx and the suggestion by Burke, Collins, & Mann, we set Lx = 2 × 1044 ergs s-1 to be the division between high- and low-luminosity clusters. At high redshift (z > 0.6) BCGs from low-L x clusters are fainter, on average, than those from high-L x clusters and are best modeled as having constant luminosity with redshift. The BCGs from high-Lx clusters are best modeled as having a stellar population that formed at large redshift (zform > 5) and is passively evolving. However, for the entire BCG population, the observed V - I and I - K′ colors are well described by a single evolutionary model in which the stellar populations have zform > 5 and subsequently passively evolve. We conclude that accretion is proportionally more significant for BCGs in lower mass clusters at these redshifts (a factor of 2-4 increase in mass since z ∼ l for the low-Lx systems; Aragon-Salamanca and coworkers) and that the accreted matter is in the form of systems with evolved stellar populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-122
Number of pages20
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Feb 10 2002


  • Galaxies: clusters: general
  • Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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