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Red sequence modal colour gradients across intermediate X-ray luminosity galaxy clusters


  • Peter C. Jensen,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122, Australia
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  • Kevin A. Pimbblet

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Physics, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia
    2. Monash Centre for Astrophysics (MoCA), Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia
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E-mail: (PCJ); (KAP)


We assemble a sample of 45 intermediate X-ray luminosity galaxy clusters (inline image erg s−1) at low redshifts (0.03 < z < 0.16) using Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) data to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the photometric variation of red sequence modal galaxy colours with environment. The clusters span a range of Bautz–Morgan types and evolutionary stages and are shown to be representative of the global underlying intermediate LX cluster sample. We define cluster membership using SDSS spectroscopic data and characterize the clusters by deriving new recession velocities, velocity dispersions and other parameters for each. We construct colour–magnitude diagrams for each of these clusters and obtain the position of the red sequence using a robust line fitting algorithm with a Lorentzian merit function. In doing so, we describe a population of discordant points on the colour–magnitude plane which are the result of photometric blending, dust and other causes. By fitting the clusters with Schechter functions to derive M values in each SDSS passband, we combine the red sequence of the galaxy clusters together to form a composite sample. We detail how the modal colour value of the red sequence varies with radius from the centre of this composite cluster and local galaxy density for all SDSS colours. In agreement with previous studies, these colours are shown to systematically move blueward with increasing distance from the cluster centres, or equivalently lower local galaxy density, whilst the width of the red sequence increases. This supports the idea that the galaxies at the outskirts of these clusters have younger luminosity-weighted ages than those at the core indicating that their star formation has been quenched more recently than in the core. A comparison of our derived gradients in (gr) (explicitly, inline image and d(gr)/dlog (Σ) = 0.012 ± 0.002) with earlier works tentatively suggests that these gradients vary redshift which would reflect the hierarchical build-up of the red sequence over time.