Major Cluster Mergers and the Location of the Brightest Cluster Galaxy [CEA]

Using a large N-body cosmological simulation combined with a subgrid treatment of galaxy formation, we study the formation and evolution of the galaxy and cluster population in a comoving volume (100 Mpc)^3 in a LCDM universe. At z = 0, our computational volume contains 1788 clusters with mass M_cl > 1.1×10^12 Msun, including 18 massive clusters with M_cl > 10^14 Msun. It also contains 1 088 797 galaxies with mass M_gal > 2×10^9 Msun and luminosity L > 9.5×10^5 Lsun. For each cluster, we identified the brightest cluster galaxy (BCG). We then computed the fraction f_BNC of clusters in which the BCG is not the closest galaxy to the center of the cluster in projection, and the ratio Dv/s, where Dv is the difference in radial velocity between the BCG and the whole cluster, and s is the radial velocity dispersion of the cluster. f_BNC increases from 0.05 for low-mass clusters (M_cl ~ 10^12 Msun) to 0.5 for high-mass ones (M_cl > 10^14 Msun), with no dependence on cluster redshift. The values of Dv/s vary from 0 to 1.8. These results are consistent with previous observational studies, and indicate that the central galaxy paradigm, which states that the BCG should be at rest at the center of the cluster, is usually valid, but exceptions are too common to be ignored. Analysis of the merger trees for the 18 most massive clusters in the simulation reveals that 16 of these clusters have experienced major mergers in the past. These mergers leave each cluster in a non-equilibrium state, but eventually the cluster settles into an equilibrium configuration, unless it is disturbed by another major merger. We found evidence that these mergers are responsible for the off-center positions and peculiar velocities of some BCGs. Our results thus support the merging-group scenario, in which some clusters form by the merger of smaller groups in which the galaxies have already formed.

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H. Martel, F. Robichaud and P. Barai
Thu, 13 Mar 14