Galaxy evolution in the Virgo Cluster

Image:    Impact of ram pressure stripping on NGC4522. This image shows NGC 4522 within the Virgo Cluster and the impact of ram pressure stripping in that environment.    Credit: NASA, ESA and the Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble)

Image: Impact of ram pressure stripping on NGC4522. This image shows NGC 4522 within the Virgo Cluster and the impact of ram pressure stripping in that environment.

Credit: NASA, ESA and the Digitized Sky Survey 2. Acknowledgment: Davide De Martin (ESA/Hubble)

Galaxy clusters are wild environments, which have a massive impact on how individual galaxies develop and evolve. By comparing galaxies near the centre of a cluster, towards the outskirts of a cluster, and those isolated in the field, provides us with an opportunity to understand some of the evolutionary dynamics.

Over 300 galaxies within and outside of the Virgo cluster were analysed in terms of their stellar mass, star formation rate, and atomic hydrogen content.

We find that the Virgo cluster contains a higher fraction of galaxies with higher stellar mass, lower atomic hydrogen mass, reduced star formation rates, and galaxies with more evenly distributed light profiles. These trends suggest the presence of processes (such as galaxy harassment, tidal disruption, and ram pressure stripping) which significantly deplete hydrogen content as we move towards the centre of the cluster.

AstronomyCarl Joseph