An Extreme Starburst in the Core of a Rich Galaxy Cluster at z = 1.7

T. Webb, A. Noble, A. DeGroot, G. Wilson, A. Muzzin, N. Bonaventura, M. Cooper, A. Delahaye, R. Foltz, C. Lidman, J. Surace, H.~K.~C. Yee, S. Chapman, L. Dunne, J. Geach, B. Hayden, H. Hildebrandt, J. Huang, A. Pope, M.~W.~L. SmithS. Perlmutter, A. Tudorica

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35 Citations (Scopus)


We have discovered an optically rich galaxy cluster at z = 1.7089 with star formation occurring in close proximity to the central galaxy. The system, SpARCS104922.6+564032.5, was detected within the Spitzer Adaptation of the red-sequence Cluster Survey, and confirmed through Keck-MOSFIRE spectroscopy. The rest-frame optical richness of Ngal (500 kpc) = 30 ± 8 implies a total halo mass, within 500 kpc, of ~3.8 ± 1.2 × 1014 M⊙, comparable to other clusters at or above this redshift. There is a wealth of ancillary data available, including Canada–France–Hawaii Telescope optical, UKIRT-K, Spitzer-IRAC/MIPS, and Herschel-SPIRE. This work adds submillimeter imaging with the SCUBA2 camera on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and near-infrared imaging with the Hubble Space Telescope. The mid/far-infrared (M/FIR) data detect an Ultra-luminous Infrared Galaxy spatially coincident with the central galaxy, with LIR = 6.2 ± 0.9 × 1012 L⊙. The detection of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at z = 1.7 in a Spitzer-IRS spectrum of the source implies the FIR luminosity is dominated by star formation (an Active Galactic Nucleus contribution of 20%) with a rate of ~860 ± 130 M⊙ yr−1. The optical source corresponding to the IR emission is likely a chain of >10 individual clumps arranged as "beads on a string" over a linear scale of 66 kpc. Its morphology and proximity to the Brightest Cluster Galaxy (BCG) imply a gas-rich interaction at the center of the cluster triggered the star formation. This system indicates that wet mergers may be an important process in forming the stellar mass of BCGs at early times.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173
Number of pages1
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2015


  • galaxies: clusters: general, galaxies: evolution, galaxies: interactions, galaxies: starburst


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