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Fossil groups in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Grant number: 07/07061-4
Support type:Regular Research Grants - Publications - Scientific article
Duration: February 01, 2008 - June 30, 2008
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Astronomy - Extragalactic Astrophysics
Principal Investigator:Laerte Sodré Junior
Grantee:Laerte Sodré Junior
Home Institution: Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas (IAG). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


We determine the first fossil group luminosity function based on spectroscopy of the member galaxies. The fossil group RX J1552.2+2013 has 36 confirmed members, is at a mean redshift of 0.136, and has a velocity dispersion of 623 km/s. The luminosity function of RX J1552.2+2013, measured within the inner region of the system, is well fitted by a Schechter function with M*i'=-21.3 and alpha=-0.6 or by a Gaussian function centered on Mi'=-20.0 with sigma=1.29 i' mag. The luminosity function obtained from a photometric survey in the g', r', and i' bands (and statistical background correction) confirms the spectroscopically determined results. There is a significant dip in the luminosity function at Mr'=-18 mag, as is also observed for other clusters. RX J1552.2+2013 is a rich, red-galaxy-dominated system, with at least 19 galaxies with magnitudes between m3 and m3+2, within a surveyed circular area of radius 625 kpc centered on the peak of the X-ray emission. Its mass, ~3×10^14 Msolar, M/L of 507 Msolar/LBsolar, and LX of 6.3×10^43 erg/s (bolometric) are more representative of a fossil cluster than of a fossil group. The central object of RX J1552.2+2013 is a cD galaxy that may have accreted the more luminous (~L*) former members of the group. Although dynamical friction and subsequent merging are probably the processes responsible for the lack of bright galaxies in the system, for the fainter members there must be another mechanism in action (perhaps tidal disruption) to deplete intermediate-luminosity galaxies (Mr'~-18) from the fossil group. (AU)