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The growth of brightest cluster galaxies using DES and Advanced ACT

Brightest cluster galaxies (BCGs) are the most massive galaxies in the Universe, and are found at the centres of massive clusters. They are most likely built-up by cannibalising and stripping other galaxies that stray close to them. This process also results in the formation of a diffuse, low surface brightness component, spread throughout the cluster, known as the intracluster light (ICL). The rate at which BCGs and the ICL grow is a matter of debate in the literature, with a wide range in both observational measurements and theoretical predictions. We will address this in this project by studying BCGs and the ICL in clusters drawn from the AdvACT cluster survey. AdvACT detects the most massive clusters in the Universe using the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) effect, and the current sample contains more than 1500 clusters. The SZ selection of the cluster sample (effectively mass limited, independent of redshift) means that the comparison of the observations with numerical simulations should be straightforward. In this MSc project, we will measure the stellar masses of the BCGs using photometry drawn from the Dark Energy Survey (DES), and the Hyper SuprimeCam (HSC) survey, and investigate how BCGs have evolved in stellar mass over the last 7 billion years.
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