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The abundance of ultra-diffuse galaxies from groups to clusters

van der Burg, Remco F.J.; Hoekstra, Henk; Muzzin, Adam; Sifón, Cristóbal; Viola, Massimo; Bremer, Malcolm N.; Brough, Sarah; Driver, Simon P.; Erben, Thomas; Heymans, Catherine; Hildebrandt, Hendrik; Holwerda, Benne W.; Klaes, Dominik; Kuijken, Konrad; McGee, Sean; Nakajima, Reiko; Napolitano, Nicola; Norberg, Peder; Taylor, Edward N.; Valentijn, Edwin

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Remco F.J. van der Burg

Henk Hoekstra

Adam Muzzin

Cristóbal Sifón

Massimo Viola

Malcolm N. Bremer

Sarah Brough

Simon P. Driver

Thomas Erben

Catherine Heymans

Hendrik Hildebrandt

Benne W. Holwerda

Dominik Klaes

Konrad Kuijken

Sean McGee

Reiko Nakajima

Nicola Napolitano

Edward N. Taylor

Edwin Valentijn


In recent years, many studies have reported substantial populations of large galaxies with low surface brightness in local galaxy clusters. Various theories that aim to explain the presence of such ultra-diffuse galaxies (UDGs) have since been proposed. A key question that will help to distinguish between models is whether UDGs have counterparts in host haloes with lower masses, and if so, what their abundance as a function of halo mass is. We here extend our previous study of UDGs in galaxy clusters to galaxy groups. We measure the abundance of UDGs in 325 spectroscopically selected groups from the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey. We make use of the overlapping imaging from the ESO Kilo-Degree Survey (KiDS), from which we can identify galaxies with mean surface brightnesses within their effective radii down to ~25.5 mag arcsec-2 in the r band. We are able to measure a significant overdensity of UDGs (with sizes reff ≥ 1.5 kpc) in galaxy groups down to M200 = 1012 M⊙, a regime where approximately only one in ten groups contains a UDG that we can detect. We combine measurements of the abundance of UDGs in haloes that cover three orders of magnitude in halo mass, finding that their numbers scale quite steeply with halo mass: NUDG(R < R200) ∝ M2001.11±0.07. To better interpret this, we also measure the mass-richness relation for brighter galaxies down to Mr* + 2.5 in the same GAMA groups, and find a much shallower relation of NBright(R < R200) ∝ M2000.78±0.05. This shows that compared to bright galaxies, UDGs are relatively more abundant in massive clusters than in groups. We discuss the implications, but it is still unclear whether this difference is related to a higher destruction rate of UDGs in groups or if massive haloes have a positive effect on UDG formation.


van der Burg, R. F., Hoekstra, H., Muzzin, A., Sifón, C., Viola, M., Bremer, M. N., …Valentijn, E. (2017). The abundance of ultra-diffuse galaxies from groups to clusters. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 607, Article A79.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 7, 2017
Online Publication Date Nov 17, 2017
Publication Date Nov 17, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 7, 2017
Publicly Available Date Dec 7, 2017
Journal Astronomy and astrophysics.
Print ISSN 0004-6361
Electronic ISSN 1432-0746
Publisher EDP Sciences
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 607
Article Number A79


Published Journal Article (2.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
Reproduced with permission from Astronomy & Astrophysics, © ESO, 2017

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