Optical colors of intracluster light in the Virgo cluster core

C.S. Rudick, J.C. Mihos, P. Harding, J.J. Feldmeier, Steven Janowiecki, H.L. Morrison

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    We continue our deep optical imaging survey of the Virgo cluster using the CWRU Burrell Schmidt telescope by presenting B-band surface photometry of the core of the Virgo cluster in order to study the cluster's intracluster light (ICL). We find ICL features down to μB ≈ 29 mag arcsec -2, confirming the results of Mihos et al., who saw a vast web of low surface brightness streams, arcs, plumes, and diffuse light in the Virgo cluster core using V-band imaging. By combining these two data sets, we are able to measure the optical colors of many of the cluster's low surface brightness features. While much of our imaging area is contaminated by galactic cirrus, the cluster core near the cD galaxy, M87, is unobscured. We trace the color profile of M87 out to over 2000″, and find a blueing trend with radius, continuing out to the largest radii. Moreover, we have measured the colors of several ICL features which extend beyond M87's outermost reaches and find that they have similar colors to the M87's halo itself, B - V ≈ 0.8. The common colors of these features suggest that the extended outer envelopes of cD galaxies, such as M87, may be formed from similar streams, created by tidal interactions within the cluster, that have since dissolved into a smooth background in the cluster potential. © 2010. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)569-580
    JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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