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Astrophysical Journal


We present UV broadband photometry and optical emission-line measurements for a sample of 32 brightest cluster galaxies (BCGs) in clusters of the Representative XMM-Newton Cluster Structure Survey (REXCESS) with z = 0.06-0.18. The REXCESS clusters, chosen to study scaling relations in clusters of galaxies, have X-ray measurements of high quality. The trends of star formation and BCG colors with BCG and host properties can be investigated with this sample. The UV photometry comes from the XMM-Newton Optical Monitor, supplemented by existing archival Galaxy Evolution Explorer photometry. We detected Hα and forbidden line emission in seven (22%) of these BCGs, in optical spectra obtained using the Southern Astrophysical Research Goodman spectrograph. All of these emission-line BCGs occupy clusters classified as cool cores (CCs) based on the central cooling time in the cluster core, for an emission-line incidence rate of 70% for BCGs in REXCESS CC clusters. Significant correlations between the Hα equivalent widths, excess UV production in the BCG, and the presence of dense, X-ray bright intracluster gas with a short cooling time are seen, including the fact that all of the Hα emitters inhabit systems with short central cooling times and high central intracluster medium densities. Estimates of the star formation rates based on Hα and UV excesses are consistent with each other in these seven systems, ranging from 0.1to8 solar masses per year. The incidence of emission-line BCGs in the REXCESS sample is intermediate, somewhat lower than in other X-ray-selected samples (∼ 35%), and somewhat higher than but statistically consistent with optically selected, slightly lower redshift BCG samples (10%-15%). The UV-optical colors (UVW1 - R ∼ 4.7 0.3) of REXCESS BCGs without strong optical emission lines are consistent with those predicted from templates and observations of ellipticals dominated by old stellar populations. We see no trend in UV-optical colors with optical luminosity, R-K color, X-ray temperature, redshift, or offset between X-ray centroid and X-ray peak (〈w〉). The lack of such trends in these massive galaxies, particularly the ones lacking emission lines, suggests that the proportion of UV-emitting (200-300 nm) stars is insensitive to galaxy mass, cluster mass, cluster relaxation, and recent evolution, over the range of this sample.

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