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Jellyfish: Evidence of Extreme Ram-pressure Stripping in Massive Galaxy Clusters

Ebeling, H.; Stephenson, L.N.; Edge, A.C.

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H. Ebeling

L.N. Stephenson


Ram-pressure stripping by the gaseous intracluster medium has been proposed as the dominant physical mechanism driving the rapid evolution of galaxies in dense environments. Detailed studies of this process have, however, largely been limited to relatively modest examples affecting only the outermost gas layers of galaxies in nearby and/or low-mass galaxy clusters. We here present results from our search for extreme cases of gas-galaxy interactions in much more massive, X-ray selected clusters at z > 0.3. Using Hubble Space Telescope snapshots in the F606W and F814W passbands, we have discovered dramatic evidence of ram-pressure stripping in which copious amounts of gas are first shock compressed and then removed from galaxies falling into the cluster. Vigorous starbursts triggered by this process across the galaxy-gas interface and in the debris trail cause these galaxies to temporarily become some of the brightest cluster members in the F606W passband, capable of outshining even the Brightest Cluster Galaxy. Based on the spatial distribution and orientation of systems viewed nearly edge-on in our survey, we speculate that infall at large impact parameter gives rise to particularly long-lasting stripping events. Our sample of six spectacular examples identified in clusters from the Massive Cluster Survey, all featuring M F606W < –21 mag, doubles the number of such systems presently known at z > 0.2 and facilitates detailed quantitative studies of the most violent galaxy evolution in clusters.


Ebeling, H., Stephenson, L., & Edge, A. (2014). Jellyfish: Evidence of Extreme Ram-pressure Stripping in Massive Galaxy Clusters. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 781(2), Article L40.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 19, 2013
Online Publication Date Jan 15, 2014
Publication Date Feb 1, 2014
Deposit Date Apr 3, 2014
Publicly Available Date Jul 3, 2014
Journal Astrophysical Journal Letters
Print ISSN 2041-8205
Electronic ISSN 2041-8213
Publisher American Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 781
Issue 2
Article Number L40
Keywords Galaxies: clusters: intracluster medium, Galaxies: evolution, Galaxies: starburst, Galaxies: structure.


Published Journal Article (760 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2014. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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