Mergers and Mass Accretion for Infalling Halos Both End Well Outside Cluster Virial Radii

We find that infalling dark matter halos (i.e., the progenitors of satellite halos) begin losing mass well outside the virial radius of their eventual host halos. The peak mass occurs at a range of clustercentric distances, with median and 68th percentile range of 1.8 +2.3/-1.0 R_(vir,host) for progenitors of z=0 satellites. The peak circular velocity for infalling halos occurs at significantly larger distances (3.7 +3.3/-2.2 R_(vir,host) at z=0). This difference arises because different physical processes set peak circular velocity (typically, ~1:5 and larger mergers which cause transient circular velocity spikes) and peak mass (typically, smooth accretion) for infalling halos. We find that infalling halos also stop having significant mergers well before they enter the virial radius of their eventual hosts. Mergers larger than a 1:40 ratio in halo mass end for infalling halos at similar clustercentric distances (~ 1.9 R_(vir,host)) as the end of overall mass accretion. However, mergers larger than 1:3 typically end for infalling halos at more than 4 virial radial away from their eventual hosts. This limits the ability of mergers to affect quenching and morphology changes in clusters. We also note that the transient spikes which set peak circular velocity may lead to issues with abundance matching on that parameter, including unphysical galaxy stellar mass growth profiles near clusters; we propose a simple observational test to check if a better halo proxy for galaxy stellar mass exists.

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Date added: Thu, 10 Oct 13