case western reserve university



Intracluster Light and the Evolution of Galaxy Clusters

Chris Mihos (Case)

The diffuse intracluster light (ICL) -- formed when stars are tidally stripped from galaxies in clusters -- is proving to be a valuable tool in studying the evolution of clusters and their member galaxies. Numerical simulations show how the morphology and luminosity of the ICL evolves with time, providing a dynamical "clock" for galaxy clusters. Observational studies are also beginning to probe the properties of the diffuse ICL in a variety of cluster environments. In the nearby Virgo cluster, our deep wide-field imaging has revealed an intricate web of diffuse starlight that clearly reflects the hierarchical nature of cluster assembly.