Low-mass dwarf ellipticals are the most numerous members of present-day galaxy clusters, but the progenitors of this dominant population remain unclear. A prime candidate is the class of objects known as Luminous Compact Blue Galaxies (LCBGs), common in intermediate-redshift clusters but virtually extinct today. Recent cosmological simulations suggest that present-day dwarf galaxies begin as irregular field galaxies, undergo an environmentally-driven starburst phase as they enter the cluster, and stop forming stars earlier than their counterparts in the field. This model predicts that cluster dwarfs should have lower stellar mass per unit dynamical mass than their counterparts in the field. We are undertaking a two-pronged archival research program to test this key prediction using the combination of precision photometry from space and high-quality spectroscopy. First, we are combining optical HST/ACS imaging of five z=0.55 clusters (including two HST Frontier Fields) with Spitzer IR imaging and publicly-released Keck/DEIMOS spectroscopy to measure stellar-to-dynamical-mass ratios for a large sample of cluster LCBGs. Second, we are exploiting a new catalog of LCBGs in the COSMOS field to gather corresponding data for a significant sample of field LCBGs. By comparing mass ratios from these datasets, we aim to test theoretical predictions and determine the primary physical driver of cluster dwarf-galaxy evolution.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #232
- Pub Date:
- June 2018