Evolution of the colour-magnitude relation of early-type galaxies in distant clusters

Tadayuki Kodama, Nobuo Arimoto, Amy J. Barger, Alfonso Aragón-Salamanca

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241 Citations (Scopus)


We present a thorough quantitative analysis of the evolution of the colour-magnitude relation for early-type galaxies in 17 distant clusters with redshifts 0.31 < z < 1.27 using the Kodama & Arimoto (1997) evolutionary model for elliptical galaxies. The model is calibrated to reproduce the colourmagnitude relation for Coma ellipticals at z ≃ 0 and gives the evolution of the slope and zero-point as a function of redshift. We find no significant differences between the colour-magnitude relations of the clusters in our sample. The slopes can be reproduced by a single model sequence in which all elliptical galaxies are assumed to be equally old (the maximum age difference allowed for the brightest 3 magnitudes is only 1 Gyr) and to have mean stellar metallicities which vary as a function of galaxy luminosity. The zero-points of the colour-magnitude relations constrain the epoch of major star formation in early-type galaxies to Zf > 2-4. This study provides two important constraints for any model of the formation of rich clusters: the uniformity of the ages of the stellar populations in the early-type galaxies and the universality of the metallicity sequence of these galaxies as a function of galaxy mass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-109
Number of pages11
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Jun 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: photometry
  • Galaxies: stellar content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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