The luminosity function of galaxies in compact groups

Sally D. Hunsberger, Jane C. Charlton, Dennis Zaritsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


From R-band images of 39 Hickson compact groups (HCGs), we use galaxy counts to determine a luminosity function extending to MR = -14.0+5 log h75, approximately 2 mag deeper than previous compact group luminosity functions. We find that a single Schlechter function is a poor fit (χv2 > 4) to the data, so we fit a composite function consisting of separate Schechter functions for the bright and faint galaxies. The bright end is best fit with M* = -21.6 and α = -0.52, and the faint end with Mα = -16.1 and α = -1.17. The decreasing bright-end slope implies a deficit of intermediate-luminosity galaxies in our sample of HCGs, and the faint-end slope is slightly steeper than that reported for earlier HCG luminosity functions. Furthermore, luminosity functions of subsets of our sample reveal more substantial dwarf populations for groups with X-ray halos, groups with tidal dwarf candidates, and groups with a dominant elliptical or lenticular galaxy. Collectively, these results support the hypothesis that within compact groups, the initial dwarf galaxy population is replenished by "subsequent generations" formed in the tidal debris of giant galaxy interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-557
Number of pages22
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART I
StatePublished - 1998


  • Galaxies: Clusters: General
  • Galaxies: Luminosity function, mass function
  • Galaxies: Photometry
  • X-rays: Galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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