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Physics  2002 

Multiple merging events in Abell 521

DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20021741

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We present a detailed spatial and dynamical analysis of the central $\sim$~2.2~\h~Mpc region of the galaxy cluster Abell~521 (z=0.247), based on 238 spectra obtained at the 3.6~m Telescope of ESO and at the CFHT. From the analysis of the 125 galaxies confirmed members of the cluster, we derive a mean velocity of $74019 ^{+112}_{-125}$ km/s and detect a complex velocity distribution with high velocity dispersion, $1325 ^{+145}_{-100}$ km/s), but clear departure from a single gaussian component. The general structure of the cluster follows a NW/SE direction, crossed by a perpendicular high density ``ridge'' of galaxies in the core region. The northern region of the cluster is characterized by a lower velocity dispersion as compared to the whole cluster value; it hosts the BCG and a dynamically bound complex of galaxies, and it is associated to a group detected in X-ray (Arnaud et al 2000). This region could be in pre-merger stage onto the main cluster nearly in the plane of the sky. These results, taken together with the fact that most of the clumps detected on the isodensity maps, as well as the early type galaxies and the brightest ones are aligned, suggest that this NW/SE direction is the preferred one for the formation of this cluster. The central high dense region shows a lower velocity location ($73625 ^{+344}_{-350}$ km/s) and significantly higher scale ($1780 ^{+234}_{-142}$ km/s) as compared to the whole cluster values. This is due to the presence of a low-velocity group of galaxies with a high fraction of emission line objects. This can be explained in a scenario in which a merging of subclusters has recently occurred along the direction of the ``ridge'' with a significant component along the line of sight.


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