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Keck spectroscopy of the faint dwarf elliptical galaxy population in the Perseus Cluster core: mixed stellar populations and a flat luminosity function

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DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.12535.x
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We present the result of a photometric and Keck-LRIS spectroscopic study of dwarf galaxies in the core of the Perseus Cluster, down to a magnitude of M_B = -12.5. Spectra were obtained for twenty-three dwarf-galaxy candidates, from which we measure radial velocities and stellar population characteristics from absorption line indices. From radial velocities obtained using these spectra we confirm twelve systems as cluster members, with the remaining eleven as non-members. Using these newly confirmed cluster members, we are able to extend the confirmed colour-magnitude relation for the Perseus Cluster down to M_B = -12.5. We confirm an increase in the scatter about the colour magnitude relationship below M_B = -15.5, but reject the hypothesis that very red dwarfs are cluster members. We measure the faint-end slope of the luminosity function between M_B = -18 and M_B = -12.5, finding alpha = -1.26 \pm 0.06, which is similar to that of the field. This implies that an overabundance of dwarf galaxies does not exist in the core of the Perseus Cluster. By comparing metal and Balmer absorption line indices with alpha-enhanced single stellar population models, we derive ages and metallicities for these newly confirmed cluster members. We find two distinct dwarf elliptical populations: an old, metal poor population with ages ~ 8 Gyr and metallicities [Fe/H] < -0.33, and a young, metal rich population with ages < 5 Gyr and metallicities [Fe/H] > -0.33. Dwarf galaxies in the Perseus Cluster are therefore not a simple homogeneous population, but rather exhibit a range in age and metallicity.

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