Star formation histories of z~1 galaxies in LEGA-C

Chauke, Priscilla and Wel, Arjen van der and Pacifici, Camilla and Bezanson, Rachel and Wu, Po-Feng and Gallazzi, Anna and Noeske, Kai and Straatman, Caroline and Munoz-Mateos, J. C. and Franx, Marijn and Barisic, Ivana and Bell, Eric F. and Brammer, Gabriel and Calhau, Joao and Houdt, Josha van and Labbé, Ivo and Maseda, Michael V. and Muzzin, Adam and Rix, Hans-Walter and Sobral, David (2018) Star formation histories of z~1 galaxies in LEGA-C. The Astrophysical Journal, 861 (1). ISSN 0004-637X

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Using high resolution spectra from the VLT LEGA-C program, we reconstruct the star formation histories (SFHs) of 607 galaxies at redshifts z = 0.6 − 1.0 and stellar masses 10^10 M⊙ using a custom full spectrum fitting algorithm that incorporates the emcee and FSPS packages. We show that the mass-weighted age of a galaxy correlates strongly with stellar velocity dispersion (σ∗) and ongoing star-formation (SF) activity, with the stellar content in higher-σ∗ galaxies having formed earlier and faster. The SFHs of quiescent galaxies are generally consistent with passive evolution since their main SF epoch, but a minority show clear evidence of a rejuvenation event in their recent past. The mean age of stars in galaxies that are star-forming is generally significantly younger, with SF peaking after z < 1.5 for almost all star-forming galaxies in the sample: many of these still have either constant or rising SFRs on timescales > 100 Myrs. This indicates that z > 2 progenitors of z ∼ 1 star-forming galaxies are generally far less massive. Finally, despite considerable variance in the individual SFHs, we show that the current SF activity of massive galaxies (> L∗ ) at z ∼ 1 correlates with SF levels at least 3 Gyrs prior: SFHs retain ‘memory’ on a large fraction of the Hubble time. Our results illustrate a novel approach to resolve the formation phase of galaxies, and in identifying their individual evolutionary paths, connects progenitors and descendants across cosmic time. This is uniquely enabled by the high-quality continuum spectroscopy provided by the LEGA-C survey.

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Journal Article
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The Astrophysical Journal
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This is an author-created, un-copyedited version of an article accepted for publication/published in The Astrophysical Journal. IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at doi:10.3847/1538-4357/aac324
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08 May 2018 10:28
Last Modified:
09 Jul 2020 05:57