In the centers of galaxy clusters, typically lives a single, massive galaxy surrounded by significantly-lower-mass neighbors. This massive galaxy is typically “red and dead”, with little ongoing star formation, suggesting that it has grown primarily via mergers with other quenched galaxies. In relaxed clusters, the position of this galaxy marks the gravitational potential minimum, with the central galaxy often surrounded by giant arcs indicating strong gravitational lensing. These central galaxies, known as “brightest cluster galaxies” (BCGs) are the most massive galaxies in the Universe, and represent an extreme channel of galaxy formation.
Using optical/infrared data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Magellan telescopes in Chile, we are studying the assembly and evolution of these unique systems. The main questions that we are trying to answer are:
Below are some relevant papers and links to ongoing collaborations/efforts.