The First Galaxy Cluster Discovered by the VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea Survey

L. D. Baravalle, J. L.Nilo Castellón, M. V. Alonso, J. Díaz Tello, G. Damke, C. Valotto, H. Cuevas Larenas, B. Sánchez, M. De Los Ríos, D. Minniti, M. Domínguez, S. Gurovich, R. Barbá, M. Soto, F. Milla Castro

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2 Citations (Scopus)


We report the first confirmed detection of the galaxy cluster VVV-J144321-611754 at very low latitudes (l = 315.°836, b = -1.°650) located in the tile d015 of the VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) survey. We defined the region of 30 ×30 arcmin 2 centered in the brightest galaxy finding 25 galaxies. For these objects, extinction-corrected median colors of (H-K s ) = 0.34 ± 0.05 mag, (J-H) = 0.57 ± 0.08 mag, and (J-K s ) = 0.87 ± 0.06 mag; R 1/2 = 1.59 ± 0.″16; C = 3.01 ± 0.08; and Sérsic index n = 4.63 ± 0.39 were estimated. They were visually confirmed showing characteristics of early-type galaxies in the near-IR images. An automatic clustering analysis performed in the whole tile found that the concentration of galaxies VVV-J144321-611754 is a real, compact concentration of early-type galaxies. Assuming a typical galaxy cluster with low X-ray luminosity, the photometric redshift of the brightest galaxy is z = 0.196 ± 0.025. Follow-up near-IR spectroscopy with FLAMINGOS-2 at the Gemini-South telescope revealed that the two brighter cluster galaxies have typical spectra of early-type galaxies and the estimated redshift for the brightest galaxy VVV-J144321.06-611753.9 is z = 0.234 ± 0.022 and that for VVV-J144319.02-611746.1 is z = 0.232 ± 0.019. Finally, these galaxies clearly follow the cluster red sequence in the rest-frame near-IR color-magnitude diagram with a slope similar to a galaxy cluster at a redshift of 0.2. These results are consistent with the presence of a bona fide galaxy cluster beyond the Milky Way disk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number46
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2019


  • galaxies: clusters: general
  • infrared: galaxies
  • surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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