Galaxy Optical Variability of Virgo Cluster: New Tracer for Environmental Influences on Galaxies

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We investigate the relationship between the optical variability of galaxies and their distances from the centre of the Virgo Cluster using Palomar Transient Factory data. We define the ratio between the standard deviation of the galaxy brightness and the mean value of the standard deviation as a measure of a galaxy’s optical variability. A sample of 814 Virgo galaxies with 230263 observations shows a monotonically decreasing trend of optical variability with increasing clustercentric distance. The variability level inside the cluster is 3.2σ higher than the level outside. We fit the variability with a linear function and find that the data reject a distance-independent model. We examine 217 background galaxies for comparison and find no significant trend in galaxy variability. We assess the relation with Monte Carlo simulation by rebuilding the brightness of each galaxy. The simulation shows a monotonically decreasing relation for member galaxy variability and a distance-independent relation for background galaxies. Our result is consistent with the theory that the cold gas flowing inwards the cluster centre fuels AGN activity. This work is a new implementation of the method using optical variability to investigate the relation between galaxies evolution and their environment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 May 2020


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