The environmental dependence of the incidence of galactic tidal features

Scott M. Adams, Dennis Zaritsky, David J. Sand, Melissa L. Graham, Chris Bildfell, Henk Hoekstra, Chris Pritchet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In a sample of 54 galaxy clusters (0.04 < z < 0.15) containing 3551 early-type galaxies suitable for study, we identify those with tidal features both interactively and automatically. We find that 3% have tidal features that can be detected with data that reach a 3σ sensitivity limit of 26.5 mag arcsec -2. Regardless of the method used to classify tidal features, or the fidelity imposed on such classifications, we find a deficit of tidally disturbed galaxies with decreasing clustercentric radius that is most pronounced inside of ∼0.5 R 200. We cannot distinguish whether the trend arises from an increasing likelihood of recent mergers with increasing clustercentric radius or a decrease in the lifetime of tidal features with decreasing clustercentric radius. We find no evidence for a relationship between local density and the incidence of tidal features, but our local density measure has large uncertainties. We find interesting behavior in the rate of tidal features among cluster early-types as a function of clustercentric radius and expect such results to provide constraints on the effect of the cluster environment on the structure of galaxy halos, the build-up of the red sequence of galaxies, and the origin of the intracluster stellar population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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