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The Spiderweb Galaxy: A Forming Massive Cluster Galaxy at z~2

The Spiderweb Galaxy: A Forming Massive Cluster Galaxy at z~2

Publication date: 11 October 2006

Authors: Miley, G.K. et al.

Journal: Astrophysical Journal Letters
Volume: 650
Issue: 1
Page: L29-L32
Year: 2006

Copyright: American Astronomical Society

We present a deep image of the radio galaxy MRC 1138-262 taken with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) at a redshift of z = 2.2. The galaxy is known to have properties of a cD galaxy progenitor and be surrounded by a 3 Mpc-sized structure, identified with a protocluster. The morphology shown on the new deep HST ACS image is reminiscent of a spider's web. More than 10 individual clumpy features are observed, apparently star-forming satellite galaxies in the process of merging with the progenitor of a dominant cluster galaxy 11 Gyr ago. There is an extended emission component, implying that star formation was occurring over a 50 × 40 kpc region at a rate of more than 100 Msolar yr-1. A striking feature of the newly named "Spiderweb galaxy" is the presence of several faint linear galaxies within the merging structure. The dense environments and fast galaxy motions at the centers of protoclusters may stimulate the formation of these structures, which dominate the faint resolved galaxy populations in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. The new image provides a unique testbed for simulations of forming dominant cluster galaxies.

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