Journal Article

The diverse nature of optical emission lines in brightest cluster galaxies: IFU observations of the central kiloparsec

Louise O. V. Edwards, Carmelle Robert, Mercedes Mollá and Sean L. McGee

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 396, issue 4, pages 1953-1971
Published in print July 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.14897.x
The diverse nature of optical emission lines in brightest cluster galaxies: IFU observations of the central kiloparsec

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We present integral field spectroscopy of the nebular line emission in a sample of nine brightest cluster galaxies (BCGs). The sample was chosen to probe both cooling flow and non-cooling flow clusters, as well as a range of cluster X-ray luminosities. The line emission morphology and velocity gradients suggest a great diversity in the properties of the line emitting gas. While some BCGs show evidence for filamentary or patchy emission (Abell 1060, Abell 1668 and MKW 3s), others have extended emission (Abell 1204, Abell 2199), while still others have centrally concentrated emission (Abell 2052). We examine diagnostic line ratios to determine the dominant ionization mechanisms in each galaxy. Most of the galaxies show regions with active galactic nucleus like spectra, however, for two BCGs, Abell 1060 and Abell 1204, the emission line diagnostics suggest regions which can be described by the emission from young stellar populations. The diversity of emission-line properties in our sample of BCGs suggests that the emission mechanism is not universal, with different ionization processes dominating different systems. Given this diversity, there is no evidence for a clear distinction of the emission-line properties between cooling flow and non-cooling flow BCGs. It is not always cooling flow BCGs which show emission (or young stellar populations), and non-cooling flow BCGs which do not.

Keywords: stars: formation; galaxies: clusters: general; galaxies: clusters: individual: A1060; cooling flows; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: stellar content

Journal Article.  15279 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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