CANDELS: The progenitors of compact quiescent galaxies at z~2

The Astrophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 5.99). 06/2012; 765(2). DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/765/2/104
Source: arXiv


We combine high-resolution HST/WFC3 images with multi-wavelength photometry
to track the evolution of structure and activity of massive (log(M*) > 10)
galaxies at redshifts z = 1.4 - 3 in two fields of the Cosmic Assembly
Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS). We detect compact,
star-forming galaxies (cSFGs) whose number densities, masses, sizes, and star
formation rates qualify them as likely progenitors of compact, quiescent,
massive galaxies (cQGs) at z = 1.5 - 3. At z > 2 most cSFGs have specific
star-formation rates (sSFR = 10^-9 yr^-1) half that of typical, massive SFGs at
the same epoch, and host X-ray luminous AGN 30 times (~30%) more frequently.
These properties suggest that cSFGs are formed by gas-rich processes (mergers
or disk-instabilities) that induce a compact starburst and feed an AGN, which,
in turn, quench the star formation on dynamical timescales (few 10^8 yr). The
cSFGs are continuously being formed at z = 2 - 3 and fade to cQGs by z = 1.5.
After this epoch, cSFGs are rare, thereby truncating the formation of new cQGs.
Meanwhile, down to z = 1, existing cQGs continue to enlarge to match local QGs
in size, while less-gas-rich mergers and other secular mechanisms shepherd
(larger) SFGs as later arrivals to the red sequence. In summary, we propose two
evolutionary scenarios of QG formation: an early (z > 2), fast-formation path
of rapidly-quenched cSFGs that evolve into cQGs that later enlarge within the
quiescent phase, and a slow, late-arrival (z < 2) path for SFGs to form QGs
without passing through a compact state.

Download full-text


Available from: Nimish P. Hathi, Dec 23, 2013
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We study the (M,sigma) and (M,Re) projections of the thin Mass Plane (MP) (M,sigma,Re) which describes the distribution of the galaxy population. The distribution of galaxy properties on the MP is characterized by: (i) a zone of exclusion described by two power-laws joined by a break at M 3e10 Msun. This results in a break in the mean M-sigma relation with Msigma^2.3 and M sigma^4.7 at small and large sigma respectively; (ii) a mass M 2e11 Msun which separates a population dominated by flat fast rotator with disks and spiral galaxies at lower masses, from one dominated by quite round slow rotators at larger masses; (iii) below that mass the distribution of ETGs properties tends to be constant along lines of constant sigma; (iv) it forms a parallel sequence with the distribution of spiral galaxies; (v) at even lower masses, the distribution of fast rotator ETGs and late spirals naturally extends to that of dwarf ETGs (Sph) and dwarf irregulars (Im) respectively. We show via dynamical models that sigma traces the bulge fraction, which drives the observed trends in M/L, Hbeta, colour, IMF and molecular gas fraction. We interpret this as due to a combination of two main effects: (i) an increase of the bulge fraction which increases sigma and greatly enhances the likelihood for a galaxy to have its star formation quenched, and (ii) dry merging, increasing galaxy mass along lines of nearly constant sigma, while leaving the population unchanged. [Abriged]
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Using public data from the NEWFIRM Medium-Band Survey (NMBS) and the Cosmic Assembly Near-Infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS), we investigate the population of massive galaxies at z > 3. The main aim of this work is to identify the potential progenitors of z ~ 2 compact, massive, quiescent galaxies (CMQGs), furthering our understanding of the onset and evolution of massive galaxies. Our work is enabled by high-resolution images from CANDELS data and accurate photometric redshifts, stellar masses, and star formation rates (SFRs) from 37-band NMBS photometry. The total number of massive galaxies at z > 3 is consistent with the number of massive, quiescent galaxies (MQGs) at z ~ 2, implying that the SFRs for all of these galaxies must be much lower by z ~ 2. We discover four CMQGs at z > 3, pushing back the time for which such galaxies have been observed. However, the volume density for these galaxies is significantly less than that of galaxies at z < 2 with similar masses, SFRs, and sizes, implying that additional CMQGs must be created in the intervening ~1 Gyr between z = 3 and z = 2. We find five star-forming galaxies at z ~ 3 that are compact (Re < 1.4 kpc) and have stellar mass M * > 1010.6M ☉; these galaxies are likely to become members of the massive, quiescent, compact galaxy population at z ~ 2. We evolve the stellar masses and SFRs of each individual z > 3 galaxy adopting five different star formation histories (SFHs) and studying the resulting population of massive galaxies at z = 2.3. We find that declining or truncated SFHs are necessary to match the observed number density of MQGs at z ~ 2, whereas a constant delayed-exponential SFH would result in a number density significantly smaller than observed. All of our assumed SFHs imply number densities of CMQGs at z ~ 2 that are consistent with the observed number density. Better agreement with the observed number density of CMQGs at z ~ 2 is obtained if merging is included in the analysis and better still if star formation quenching is assumed to shortly follow the merging event, as implied by recent models of the formation of MQGs.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · The Astrophysical Journal
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We use the large COSMOS sample of galaxies to study in an internally self-consistent way the change in the number densities of quenched early-type galaxies (Q-ETGs) of a given size over the redshift interval 0.2 < z < 1 in order to study the claimed size evolution of these galaxies. In a stellar mass bin at 1010.5 < M galaxy < 1011M ☉, we see no change in the number density of compact Q-ETGs over this redshift range, while in a higher mass bin at >1011M ☉, where we would expect merging to be more significant, we find a small decrease, by ~30%. In both mass bins, the increase of the median sizes of Q-ETGs with time is primarily caused by the addition to the size function of larger and more diffuse Q-ETGs. At all masses, compact Q-ETGs become systematically redder toward later epochs, with a (U – V) color difference which is consistent with a passive evolution of their stellar populations, indicating that they are a stable population that does not appreciably evolve in size. We find furthermore, at all epochs, that the larger Q-ETGs (at least in the lower mass bin) have average rest-frame colors that are systematically bluer than those of the more compact Q-ETGs, suggesting that the former are indeed younger than the latter. The idea that new, large, Q-ETGs are responsible for the observed growth in the median size of the population at a given mass is also supported by analysis of the sizes and number of the star-forming galaxies that are expected to be the progenitors of the new Q-ETGs over the same period. In the low mass bin, the new Q-ETGs appear to have ~30% smaller half-light radii than their star-forming progenitors. This is likely due to the fading of their disks after they cease star formation. Comparison with higher redshifts shows that the median size of newly quenched galaxies roughly scales, at constant mass, as (1 + z)–1. We conclude that the dominant cause of the size evolution seen in the Q-ETG population is that the average sizes and thus stellar densities of individual Q-ETGs roughly scale with the average density of the universe at the time when they were quenched, and that subsequent size changes in individual objects, through merging or other processes, are of secondary importance, especially at masses below 1011M ☉.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2013 · The Astrophysical Journal
Show more