The transparency of galaxy clusters

Jo Bovy, David W. Hogg, John Moustakas

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    If galaxy clusters contain intracluster dust, the spectra of galaxies lying behind clusters should show attenuation by dust absorption. We compare the optical (3500-7200 Å) spectra of 60,267 luminous, early-type galaxies selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to search for the signatures of intracluster dust in z - 0.05 clusters. We select massive, quiescent (i.e., non-star-forming) galaxies using an EW(Hα) ≤ 2 Å cut and consider galaxies in three bins of velocity dispersion ranging from 150 to 300 km s -1. The uniformity of early-type galaxy spectra in the optical allows us to construct inverse-variance-weighted composite spectra with high signal-to-noise ratios (ranging from 102 to 103). We compare the composite spectra of galaxies that lie behind and adjacent to galaxy clusters and find no convincing evidence of dust attenuation on scales of ∼0.15-2 Mpc; we derive a generic limit of E(B - V) < 3 × 10 -3 mag on scales of ∼1-2 Mpc at the 99% confidence level, using conservative jackknife error bars, corresponding to a dust mass ≲10 8 M. On scales smaller than 1 Mpc, this limit is slightly weaker, E(B- F) < 8 × 10-3 mag.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)198-207
    Number of pages10
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Nov 20 2008


    • Dust
    • Extinction
    • Galaxies: clusters: general
    • Intergalactic medium
    • Methods: statistical

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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