The rise and fall of star formation in z ~ 0.2 merging galaxy clusters

Andra Stroe, David Sobral, William Dawson, M. James Jee, Henk Hoekstra, David Wittman, Reinout J. van Weeren, Marcus Brüggen, Huub J.A. Röttgering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


CIZA J2242.8+5301 ('Sausage') and 1RXS J0603.3+4213 ('Toothbrush') are two lowredshift (z ~ 0.2), massive (~2 × 1015M·), post-core passage merging clusters, which host-shock waves traced by diffuse radio emission. To study their star formation properties, we uniformly survey the 'Sausage' and 'Toothbrush' clusters in broad- and narrow-band filters and select a sample of 201 and 463 line emitters, down to a rest-frame equivalent width (13 Å). We robustly separate between Hα and higher redshift emitters using a combination of optical multiband (B, g, V, r, i, z) and spectroscopic data. We build Hα luminosity functions for the entire cluster region, near the shock fronts, and away from the shock fronts and find striking differences between the two clusters. In the dynamically younger, 1 Gyr old 'Sausage' cluster we find numerous (59) Hα emitters above a star formation rate (SFR) of 0.17 M· yr-1 surprisingly located in close proximity to the shock fronts, embedded in very hot intracluster medium plasma. The SFR density for the cluster population is at least at the level of typical galaxies at z ~2. Down to the same SFR, the possibly dynamically more evolved 'Toothbrush' cluster has only nine Hα galaxies. The cluster Hα galaxies fall on the SFR-stellarmass relation z ~ 0.2 for the field. However, the 'Sausage' cluster has an Hαa emitter density >20 times that of blank fields. If the shock passes through gas-rich cluster galaxies, the compressed gas could collapse into dense clouds and excite star formation for a few 100 Myr. This process ultimately leads to a rapid consumption of the molecular gas, accelerating the transformation of gas-rich field spirals into cluster S0s or ellipticals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-665
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 27

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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