The mass assembly of fossil groups of galaxies in the Millennium simulation

A Dariush, Habib Khosroshahi, Trevor Ponman, F Pearce, Somak Raychaudhury, W Hartley

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68 Citations (Scopus)


The evolution of present-day fossil galaxy groups is studied in the Millennium simulation. Using the corresponding Millennium gas simulation and semi-analytic galaxy catalogues, we select fossil groups at redshift zero according to the conventional observational criteria, and trace the haloes corresponding to these groups backwards in time, extracting the associated dark matter, gas and galaxy properties. The space density of the fossils from this study is remarkably close to the observed estimates and various possibilities for the remaining discrepancy are discussed. The fraction of X-ray bright systems which are fossils appears to be in reasonable agreement with observations, and the simulations predict that fossil systems will be found in significant numbers (3-4 per cent of the population) even in quite rich clusters. We find that fossils assemble a higher fraction of their mass at high redshifts, compared to non-fossil groups, with the ratio of the currently assembled halo mass to final mass, at any epoch, being about 10-20 per cent higher for fossils. This supports the paradigm whereby fossils represent undisturbed, early-forming systems in which large galaxies have merged to form a single dominant elliptical.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-442
Number of pages10
JournalRoyal Astronomical Society. Monthly Notices
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2007


  • galaxies : formation
  • methods : numerical
  • hydrodynamics
  • cosmology : theory
  • galaxies : kinematics and dynamics


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