Investigating the star formation histories of the brightest cluster galaxies
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This article is devoted to the study of the central stellar populations of the brightest cluster galaxies (BCGs). High signal-to-noise ratio, long-slit spectra for a sample of 39 galaxies were fitted against two stellar population models, Pegase.HR (P.HR) and Vazdekis/MILES, to determine the star formation histories of the galaxies using full spectrum fitting, to investigate, in particular, whether a single stellar population (SSP) or composite stellar population model provides the better description. Monte Carlo simulations and χ2 maps were used to check the reliability of the solutions. The ages and [Fe/H] were (i) compared with those derived with the Lick indices and (ii) tested against the internal galaxy properties (the velocity dispersions and absolute K-band magnitudes) and the properties of the host cluster environment (X-ray temperatures, luminosities, offsets and the presence of cooling flows (CFs)), to determine whether any statistically significant correlations existed. The results indicate that 79 per cent of the BCG sample could be represented by an SSP fit, while the remaining 21 per cent likely experienced more than one star formation epoch. The correlations showed that the BCGs hosted in CF clusters are generally found closer to the centre of the clusters, while the BCGs in non-CF clusters are generally found further away. The main results suggested that at least some of the galaxies in the BCG sample had a more complex star formation history than first assumed and that the presence of CFs in the clusters could account for some, but not all, of the star formation activity of BCGs
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