On the accretion of a new group of galaxies on to Virgo - II. The effect of pre-processing on the stellar population content of dEs

Bidaran, Bahar; La Barbera, Francesco; Pasquali, Anna; Peletier, Reynier; van de Ven, Glenn; Grebel, Eva K.; Falcón-Barroso, Jesus; Sybilska, Agnieszka; Gadotti, Dimitri A.; Coccato, Lodovico
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Using MUSE spectra, we investigate how pre-processing and accretion on to a galaxy cluster affect the integrated stellar population properties of dwarf early-type galaxies (dEs). We analyse a sample of nine dEs with stellar masses of $\rm \sim 10^9 \, M_\odot$, which were accreted (~ 2-3 Gyr ago) on to the Virgo cluster as members of a massive galaxy group. We derive their stellar population properties, namely age, metallicity ([M/H]), and the abundance ratio of α elements ([α/Fe]), by fitting observed spectral indices with a robust, iterative procedure, and infer their star formation history (SFH) by means of full spectral fitting. We find that these nine dEs are more metal-poor (at the 2-3σ level) and significantly more α-enhanced than dEs in the Virgo and Coma clusters with similar stellar mass, clustercentric distance, and infall time. Moreover, for six dEs, we find evidence for a recent episode of star formation during or right after the time of accretion on to Virgo. We interpret the high [α/Fe] of our sample of dEs as the result of the previous exposure of these galaxies to an environment hostile to star formation, and/or the putative short burst of star formation they underwent after infall into Virgo. Our results suggest that the stellar population properties of low-mass galaxies may be the result of the combined effect of pre-processing in galaxy groups and environmental processes (such as ram-pressure triggering star formation) acting during the early phases of accretion on to a cluster.
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Traces of Galaxy Formation: Stellar populations, Dynamics and Morphology

We are a large, diverse, and very active research group aiming to provide a comprehensive picture for the formation of galaxies in the Universe. Rooted in detailed stellar population analysis, we are constantly exploring and developing new tools and ideas to understand how galaxies came to be what we now observe.

Martín Navarro