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The spatial distribution of satellites in galaxy clusters

Gu, Qing; Guo, Qi; Zhang, Tianchi; Cautun, Marius; Lacey, Cedric; Frenk, Carlos S; Shao, Shi

The spatial distribution of satellites in galaxy clusters Thumbnail


Qing Gu

Qi Guo

Tianchi Zhang

Marius Cautun


The planar distributions of satellite galaxies around the Milky Way and Andromeda have been extensively studied as potential challenges to the standard cosmological model. Using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Millennium simulation, we extend such studies to the satellite galaxies of massive galaxy clusters. We find that both observations and simulations of galaxy clusters show an excess of anisotropic satellite distributions. On average, satellites in clusters have a higher degree of anisotropy than their counterparts in Milky-Way-mass hosts once we account for the difference in their radial distributions. The normal vector of the plane of satellites is strongly aligned with the host halo’s minor axis, while the alignment with the large-scale structure is weak. At fixed cluster mass, the degree of anisotropy is higher at higher redshift. This reflects the highly anisotropic nature of satellites accretion points, a feature that is partly erased by the subsequent orbital evolution of the satellites. We also find that satellite galaxies are mostly accreted singly so group accretion is not the explanation for the high flattening of the planes of satellites.


Gu, Q., Guo, Q., Zhang, T., Cautun, M., Lacey, C., Frenk, C. S., & Shao, S. (2022). The spatial distribution of satellites in galaxy clusters. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 514(1), 390-402.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 1, 2022
Online Publication Date May 10, 2022
Publication Date 2022-07
Deposit Date Jul 11, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 11, 2022
Journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Electronic ISSN 1365-2966
Publisher Royal Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 514
Issue 1
Pages 390-402


Published Journal Article (12.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. ©: 2022 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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