AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 52. Galaxy Evolution and Surveys: Observations and Interpretation
Poster, Tuesday, January 7, 2003, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall AB

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[52.08] Galaxy Recycling in the Centaurus Cluster

M. D. Gregg (University of California, Davis and IGPP/LLNL), M. J. West (University of Hawaii, Hilo)

The Centaurus cluster of galaxies contains a spectacular example of galaxy destruction and recycling, a giant plume of stellar debris over 100~kpc in length and ~~15 kpc wide. We have obtained HST/WFPC2 V and I band images of a tiny portion of the Centaurus plume. A highly significant excess of objects is detected in the plume, compared to surrounding regions. The excess objects, assuming they are in Centaurus, range from -6 > MV> -12, providing evidence that globular clusters and dwarf galaxies can be born from tidal debris in rich galaxy clusters, just as is known to occur in field galaxy tidal interactions. Over time, the recycled debris from many such disruption events augments the intracluster population of stars, clusters, dwarf galaxies, and gas, and is a major driver of the global evolution of the cluster. We will also discuss our deep u'g'r'i'z' multicolor images of Centaurus, obtained with the CTIO 4m 8K Mosaic to investigate the entire plume and enabling a cluster-wide search for additional tidal debris to very faint levels.

We acknowledge financial support from the National Science Foundation and the Space Telescope Science Institute. Part of this work was done at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under contract No.~W-7405-Eng-48.

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