A Deep Spectroscopic Survey of the Virgo Cluster Core


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Scientific paper

As the dominant mass concentration in the local universe and the largest collection of galaxies within ~35 Mpc, the Virgo cluster has historically played a key role in studies of how galaxies evolve in dense environments. Building on deep CFHT/Megacam u^*,g',r',i',z' images already in hand, this proposal capitalizes on the wide field of view and multiplexing capabilities of MMT/Hectospec to carry out a deep spectroscopic survey of cluster members within a 2°× 2° region centered on Virgo's dominant galaxy, M87. Using nine Hectospec pointings, we will obtain spectra for all galaxies and globular clusters brighter than g'=19.5 mag, and a randomly selected sample of galaxies as faint as g'=21.0 mag: 1.5 and 3 magnitudes deeper, respectively, than reached by the SDSS. The combination of Hectospec and CFHT data will provide an unprecedented view of the core of this uniquely important cluster, with which to 1) characterize the faint end of the galaxy luminosity function well within the magnitude range over which current studies significantly disagree; 2) study the stellar population of cluster members as faint as g'=-13.2 using Lick index line measurements; and 3) use the globular cluster system of M87 to constrain the mass profile and the velocity ellipsoid of baryonic tracers in the critical transition region between the galaxy and cluster potential.

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