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- Theoretical models describing the dynamical evolution of self-gravitating systems predict a spatial mass segregation for more evolved systems, with the more massive objects concentrated toward the center of the configuration. From the observational point of view, however, the existence of mass segregation in galaxy clusters seems to be a matter of controversy. A special problem in this connection is the formation of cD galaxies in the centers of galaxy clusters. The most promising scenarios of their formation are galaxy cannibalism (merger scenario) and growing by cooling flows. It seems to be plausible to consider the swallowing of smaller systems by a dominant galaxy as an important process in the evolution of a cD galaxy. The stage of the evolution of the dominant galaxy should be reflected by the surrounding galaxy population, especially by possible mass segregation effects. Assuming that mass segregation is tantamount to luminosity segregation we analyzed luminosity segregation in roughly 40 cD galaxy clusters. Obviously there are three different groups of clusters: (1) clusters with luminosity segregation, (2) clusters without luminosity segregation, and (3) such objects exhibiting a phenomenon which we call antisegregation in luminosity, i.e. a deficiency of bright galaxies in the central regions of clusters. This result is interpreted in the sense of different degrees of mass segregation and as an indication for different evolution stages of these clusters. The clusters are arranged in the three segregation classes 2, 1, and 0 (S2 = strong mass segregation, S1 = moderate mass segregation, S0 = weak or absent mass segregation). We assume that a galaxy cluster starts its dynamical evolution after virialization without any radial mass segregation. Energy exchange during encounters of cluster members as well as merger processes between cluster galaxies lead to an increasing radial mass segregation in the cluster (S1). If a certain degree of segregation (S2) has been established, an essential number of slow-moving and relative massive cluster members in the center will be cannibalized by the initial brightest cluster galaxy. This process should lead to the growing of the predominate galaxy, which is accompanied by a diminution of the mass segregation (transition to S1 and S0, respectively) in the neighborhood of the central very massive galaxy. An increase of the areal density of brighter galaxies towards the outer cluster regions (antisegregation of luminosity), i.e. an extreme low degree of mass segregation was estimated for a substantial percentage of cD clusters. This result favors the cannibalism scenario for the formation of cD galaxies.
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- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 19930017645.
Accession ID: 93N26834.
NASA. Ames Research Center, The Evolution of Galaxies and Their Environment; p 265-266.
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