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Title:
Newborn spheroids at high redshift: when and how did the dominant, old stars in today's massive galaxies form?
Authors:
Kaviraj, S.; Cohen, S.; Ellis, R. S.; Peirani, S.; Windhorst, R. A.; O'Connell, R. W.; Silk, J.; Whitmore, B. C.; Hathi, N. P.; Ryan, R. E.; Dopita, M. A.; Frogel, J. A.; Dekel, A.
Affiliation:
AA(Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ; Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Keble Road, Oxford OX1 3RH; Department of Astronomy, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA; ), AB(School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1404, USA), AC(Department of Astronomy, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA), AD(Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, 98 bis boulevard Arago, F-75014 Paris, France), AE(School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1404, USA), AF(Department of Astronomy, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4325, USA), AG(Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Keble Road, Oxford OX1 3RH; Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, 98 bis boulevard Arago, F-75014 Paris, France), AH(Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA), AI(Carnegie Observatories, 813 Santa Barbara Street, Pasadena, CA 91101, USA), AJ(Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA), AK(Research School of Physics and Astronomy, The Australian National University, ACT 2611, Australia; Astronomy Department, King Abdulaziz University, PO Box 80203, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), AL(Astronomy Department, King Abdulaziz University, PO Box 80203, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Galaxies Unlimited, 1 Tremblant Court, Lutherville, MD 2109, USA), AM(Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91904, Israel)
Publication:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 428, Issue 2, p.925-934 (MNRAS Homepage)
Publication Date:
01/2013
Origin:
OUP
Astronomy Keywords:
galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD, galaxies: evolution, galaxies: formation, galaxies: high-redshift, galaxies: interactions
Abstract Copyright:
2012 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society
DOI:
10.1093/mnras/sts031
Bibliographic Code:
2013MNRAS.428..925K

Abstract

We study ˜330 massive (M* > 109.5 M&sun;), newborn spheroidal galaxies (SGs) around the epoch of peak star formation (1 < z < 3) to explore the high-redshift origin of SGs and gain insight into when and how the old stellar populations that dominate today's Universe formed. The sample is drawn from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST)/WFC3 Early-Release Science programme, which provides deep 10-filter (0.2-1.7 mum) HST imaging over one-third of the GOODS-South field. We find that the star formation episodes that built our SGs likely peaked in the redshift range 2 < z < 5 (with a median of z ˜ 3) and have decay time-scales shorter than ˜1.5 Gyr. Starburst time-scales and ages show no trend with stellar mass in the range 109.5 < M* < 1010.5 M&sun;. However, the time-scales show increased scatter towards lower values (<0.3 Gyr) for M* > 1010.5 M&sun;, and an age trend becomes evident in this mass regime: SGs with M* > 1011.5 M&sun; are ˜2 Gyr older than their counterparts with M* < 1010.5 M&sun;. Nevertheless, a smooth downsizing trend with galaxy mass is not observed, and the large scatter in starburst ages indicates that SGs are not a particularly coeval population. Around half of the blue SGs appear not to drive their star formation via major mergers, and those that have experienced a recent major merger show only modest enhancements (˜40 per cent) in their specific star formation rates. Our empirical study indicates that processes other than major mergers (e.g. violent disc instability driven by cold streams and/or minor mergers) likely play a dominant role in building SGs, and creating a significant fraction of the old stellar populations that dominate today's Universe.
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