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C. Mihos, P. Harding (Case), J. Feldmeier (YSU), H. Morrison (Case)
We use deep broad-band imaging of the Virgo Cluster using Case's Burrell Schmidt telescope to study the properties of its diffuse intracluster light (ICL). Our image -- 1.5 degrees on a side with a limiting depth of mu(V)=28.5 magnitudes per square arcsecond -- reveals an intricate web of diffuse intracluster light, including long (>100 kpc) tidal streams and a myriad of tidal tails and bridges between galaxies. The diffuse halo of M87 is traced out to nearly 200 kpc, and significant diffuse light is also detected around the M84/M86 pair. The complex substructure seen in Virgo's diffuse ICL reflects the hierarchical nature of cluster assembly, rather than being the product of smooth accretion around a central galaxy. We also present quantitative comparisons between our measurements of Virgo's ICL and those obtained from discrete tracers of starlight such as planetary nebulae and red giants.
This work has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Research Corporation.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.