An overdensity of i-dropouts among a population of excess field objects in the virgo cluster

Haojing Yan, Nimish P. Hathi, Rogier Windhorst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Using a set of deep imaging data obtained by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) shortly after its deployment, Yan, Windhorst, & Cohen found a large number of F775W-band dropouts (i-dropouts), which are consistent with being galaxies atz ≈ 6. The surface density of i-dropouts thus derived, however, is an order of magnitude higher than those subsequent studies found in other deep ACS fields, including the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF). Here we revisit this problem, using both existing and new data. We confirm that the large overdensity of i-dropouts does exist in this field, and that their optical-to-IR colors are similar to those in the HUDF. However, we have discovered that the i-dropout overdensity is accompanied by an even larger excess of faint field objects in this region and its vicinity. This large excess of field objects is most likely caused by the fact that we have resolved the faint diffuse light extending from an interacting galaxy pair in the Virgo Cluster, M60/NGC 4647, which lies several arcminutes away from the region where the excess is found. The i-dropouts in this field are within the magnitude range where this excess of field objects occurs, and their spatial distribution seems to follow the same gradient as the entire excess field population. This excess population is also red in color, and the red wing of its color distribution continuously extends to the regime where the i-dropouts reside. While we still cannot completely rule out the possibility that the overdensity of i-dropouts might be a genuine large-scale structure of galaxies at z ≈ 6, we prefer the interpretation that most of them are part of the excess stellar population related to M60/NGC 4647.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-145
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2008


  • Galaxies: halos
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Galaxies: interactions stars: AGB and post-AGB

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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