Structural Properties of Central Galaxies in Groups and Clusters

Yicheng Guo, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Daniel H. McIntosh, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
H. J. Mo, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Neal Katz, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Frank C. van den Bosch, Max-Planck-Institut fur Astronomie
Martin Weinberg, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Simone M. Weinmann, Max-Planck-Institut fur Astrophysik
Anna Pasquali, Max-Planck-Institut fur Astronomie
Xiaohu Yang, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory & University of Science and Technology of China

This paper was harvested from and ArXiv identifier is arXiv:0901.1150v2


Using a statistically representative sample of 911 central galaxies (CENs) from the SDSS DR4 Group Catalogue, we study how the structure (shape and size) of the first rank (by stellar mass) group and cluster members depends on (1) galaxy stellar mass (Mstar), (2) the global environment defined by the dark matter halo mass (Mhalo) of the host group, and (3) the local environment defined by their special halo-centric position. We establish a GALFIT-based pipeline for 2D S´ersic fitting of SDSS data to measure the S´ersic index, n, and half-light radius, r50, from r-band galaxy images. Through tests with simulated and real image data, we demonstrate that our pipeline can recover galaxy properties without significant bias. We also find that uncertainties in the background sky level translate into a strong covariance between the total magnitude, the half-light radius, and the S´ersic index, especially for bright/massive galaxies. We apply our pipeline to the CEN sample and find that the S´ersic index n of CENs depends strongly onMstar, but only weakly or not at all onMhalo. The n-Mstar relation holds for CENs over the full range of halo masses that we consider. Less massive CENs tend to be disk-like and high-mass systems are typically spheroids, with a considerable scatter in n at all galaxy masses. Similarly, CEN sizes depend on galaxy stellar mass and luminosity, with early and late-type galaxies exhibiting different slopes for the size-luminosity (r50-L) and the size-stellar mass (r50-Mstar) scaling relations. Moreover, to test the impact of local environment on CENs, we compare the structure of CENs with that of comparable satellite galaxies (SAT). We find that low mass (< 1010.75h−2M⊙) SATs have somewhat larger median S´ersic indices compared with CENs of a similar stellar mass. Also, low mass, late-type SATs are moderately smaller in size than late-type CENs of the same stellar mass. However, we find no size differences between early-type CENs and SATs and no structural differences between CENs and SATs when they are matched in both optical colour and stellar mass. The similarity in the structure of massive SATs and CENs demonstrates that this distinction has no significant impact on the structure of spheroids. We conclude that Mstar is the most fundamental property determining the basic structural shape and size of a galaxy. In contrast, the lack of a significant n-Mhalo relation rules out a clear distinct group mass for producing spheroids, and the morphological transformation processes that produce spheroids must occur at the centres of groups spanning a wide range of masses