Deficit Spending and the Cluster Baryon Budget
The deep gravitational potential wells of clusters of galaxies should capture fair samples of the total baryon fraction of the Universe, unless other physical processes drive baryons out of clusters. Thus precision measurements of the baryon fraction, particularly as a function of cluster halo mass, can reveal the history of baryon flux into and out of clusters. How those baryons are then apportioned between stars and intracluster gas - the star formation efficiency - informs models of cluster assembly and massive galaxy evolution, as well as efforts to use the cluster gas fraction to constrain the mass density and dark energy equation of state parameters.
Even the partitioning of the stellar baryons alone, in and out of galaxies, tests models of cluster galaxy evolution, as intracluster stars are the final, unambiguous signature of stars stripped from cluster galaxies. We have discovered that intracluster stars are a significant part of the stellar baryons in clusters and poorer groups of galaxies. I will present new work characterizing the properties of this previously unexplored component, as well as the consequences for the cluster baryon budget and its relationship to the Universal WMAP value