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Destruction of Molecular Gas Reservoirs in Early-Type Galaxies by Active Galactic Nucleus Feedback

Schawinski, Kevin and Lintott, Chris J. and Thomas, Daniel and Kaviraj, Sugata and Viti, Serena and Silk, Joseph and Maraston, Claudia and Sarzi, Marc and Yi, Sukyoung K. and Joo, Seok-Joo and Daddi, Emanuele and Bayet, Estelle and Bell, Tom and Zuntz, Joe (2009) Destruction of Molecular Gas Reservoirs in Early-Type Galaxies by Active Galactic Nucleus Feedback. Astrophysical Journal, 690 (2). pp. 1672-1680. ISSN 0004-637X.

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Residual star formation at late times in early-type galaxies and their progenitors must be suppressed in order to explain the population of red, passively evolving systems we see today. Likewise, residual or newly accreted reservoirs of molecular gas that are fueling star formation must be destroyed. This suppression of star formation in early-type galaxies is now commonly attributed to active galactic nucleus (AGN) feedback wherein the reservoir of gas is heated and expelled during a phase of accretion onto the central supermassive black hole. However, direct observational evidence for a link between the destruction of this molecular gas and an AGN phase has been missing so far. We present new mm-wavelength observations from the IRAM 30 m telescope of a sample of low-redshift SDSS early-type galaxies currently undergoing this process of quenching of late-time star formation. Our observations show that the disappearance of the molecular gas coincides within less than 100 Myr with the onset of accretion onto the black hole and is too rapid to be due to star formation alone. Since our sample galaxies are not associated to powerful quasar activity or radio jets, we conclude that low-luminosity AGN episodes are sufficient to suppress residual star formation in early-type galaxies. This "suppression mode" of AGN feedback is very different from the "truncation mode" linked to powerful quasar activity during early phases of galaxy formation.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Schawinski, Kevin0000-0001-5464-0888
Lintott, Chris J.0000-0001-5578-359X
Thomas, Daniel0000-0001-9415-5991
Maraston, Claudia0000-0001-7711-3677
Daddi, Emanuele0000-0002-3331-9590
Additional Information:© 2009 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2008 April 23; accepted 2008 September 4; published 2008 December 30. Print publication: Issue 2 (2009 January 10). This work is based on observations made with the IRAM 30 m telescope at Pico Veleta, near Granada, Spain. We thank the anonymous referee for numerous suggestions and improvements to this work. K.S. is supported by the Henry Skynner Fellowship at Balliol College, Oxford. C.J.L. acknowledges support from the STFC Science in Society Programme. S.K. acknowledges a Leverhulme Early-Career Fellowship, a BIPAC Fellowship at Oxford and a Junior Research Fellowship from Worcester College, Oxford. This work was supported by grant No. R01-2006-000-10716-0 from the Basic Research Program of the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation to SKY. C.M. is a Marie-Curie Excellence Team Leader, and acknowledges grant MEXT-CT-2006-042754 of the European Community. This research has made use of NASA's Astrophysics Data System. Facilities: IRAM:30 m (A100, B100, A230, B230). Online-only material: color figures
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Balliol CollegeUNSPECIFIED
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)UNSPECIFIED
Leverhulme FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Beecroft Institute of Particle Astrophysics and CosmologyUNSPECIFIED
Worcester CollegeUNSPECIFIED
Korea Science and Engineering FoundationR01-2006-000-10716-0
Marie Curie FellowshipMEXT-CT-2006-042754
Subject Keywords:galaxies: active; galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: formation
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:SCHAapj09
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:12887
Deposited By: Archive Administrator
Deposited On:09 Jan 2009 00:10
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

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