Jellyfish: evidence of extreme ram-pressure stripping in massive galaxy clusters.
EBELING H., STEPHENSON L.N. and EDGE A.C.
Abstract (from CDS):
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 MF606W< -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.