We search for ongoing major dry mergers in a well-selected sample of local brightest cluster galaxies (BCGs) from the C4 cluster catalogue. 18 out of 515 early-type BCGs with redshift between 0.03 and 0.12 are found to be in major dry mergers, which are selected as pairs (or triples) with r-band magnitude difference δm r <1.5 and projected separation r p <30 kpc, and showing signatures of interaction in the form of significant asymmetry in residual images. We find that the fraction of BCGs in major dry mergers increases with the richness of the clusters, consistent with the fact that richer clusters usually have more massive (or luminous) BCGs. We estimate that present-day early-type BCGs may have experienced on average ∼0.6 (t merge/0.3 Gyr) -1 major dry mergers and through this process increases their luminosity (mass) by 15 per cent (t merge/0.3 Gyr) -1 (f mass/0.5) on average since z = 0.7, where t merge is the merging time-scale and f mass is the mean mass fraction of companion galaxies added to the central ones. We also find that major dry mergers do not seem to elevate radio activities in BCGs. Our study shows that major dry mergers involving BCGs in clusters of galaxies are not rare in the local Universe, and they are an important channel for the formation and evolution of BCGs. © 2009 RAS.
- Galaxies: clusters: general
- Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
- Galaxies: photometry