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Exploring galaxy evolution time-scales in clusters: insights from the projected phase space

Sampaio, V M; De Carvalho, R R; Aragón-Salamanca, Alfonso; Merrifield, M R; Ferreras, I; Cornwell, D J

Exploring galaxy evolution time-scales in clusters: insights from the projected phase space Thumbnail


V M Sampaio

R R De Carvalho

M R Merrifield

I Ferreras

D J Cornwell


Galaxies infalling into clusters undergo both star-formation quenching and morphological transformation due to environmental effects. We investigate these processes and their timescales using a local sample of 20,191 cluster and 11,674 field galaxies from SDSS. By analysing morphology as a function of distance from the star-formation main sequence, we show that environmental influence is especially pronounced for low-mass galaxies, which emerge from the green valley with early-type morphologies before their star formation is fully suppressed. Using the galaxies' positions in the clusters' Projected Phase Space, we examine the evolution of blue cloud, green valley, and red sequence fractions as a function of time since infall. Interestingly, the green valley fraction remains constant with time since infall, suggesting a balanced flow of galaxies in and out of this class. We estimate that galaxies less massive than 10 10 M ⊙ spend approximately 0.4 Gyr in the green valley. By comparing quenched and early-type populations, we provide further evidence for the "slow-then-rapid" quenching model and suggest that it can also be applied to morphological transitions. Our results indicate that morphological transformation occurs at larger radii than complete star-formation quenching. About 75% of galaxies undergoing morphological transition in clusters are spirals evolving into S0s, suggesting that infalling galaxies retain their disks, while massive ellipticals are relics of early merger events. Finally, we show it takes approximately 2.5 and 1.2 Gyr after the delay-time (∼ 3.8Gyr) for the population of low mass galaxies in clusters to reach a 50% threshold in quenched and early-type fraction, respectively. These findings suggest morphological transition precedes full star formation quenching, with both processes possibly being causally linked.


Sampaio, V. M., De Carvalho, R. R., Aragón-Salamanca, A., Merrifield, M. R., Ferreras, I., & Cornwell, D. J. (2024). Exploring galaxy evolution time-scales in clusters: insights from the projected phase space. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 532(1), 982-994.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 17, 2024
Online Publication Date Jun 20, 2024
Publication Date 2024-07
Deposit Date Jun 21, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jun 21, 2024
Journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Electronic ISSN 1365-2966
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 532
Issue 1
Pages 982-994
Keywords galaxies: clusters: general, evolution, galaxies: formation
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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2024. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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