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Star Formation Quenching Timescale of Central Galaxies in a Hierarchical Universe

Hahn, ChangHoon and Tinker, Jeremy L. and Wetzel, Andrew (2017) Star Formation Quenching Timescale of Central Galaxies in a Hierarchical Universe. Astrophysical Journal, 841 (1). Art. No. 6. ISSN 1538-4357.

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Central galaxies make up the majority of the galaxy population, including the majority of the quiescent population at M_* > 10^(10)M_☉. Thus, the mechanism(s) responsible for quenching central galaxies play a crucial role in galaxy evolution as whole. We combine a high-resolution cosmological N-body simulation with observed evolutionary trends of the "star formation main sequence," quiescent fraction, and stellar mass function at z < 1 to construct a model that statistically tracks the star formation histories and quenching of central galaxies. Comparing this model to the distribution of central galaxy star formation rates in a group catalog of the SDSS Data Release 7, we constrain the timescales over which physical processes cease star formation in central galaxies. Over the stellar mass range 10^(9.5)-10^(11)M_☉ we infer quenching e-folding times that span 1.5–0.5 Gyr with more massive central galaxies quenching faster. For M_* = 10^(10.5)M_☉, this implies a total migration time of ~4 Gyr from the star formation main sequence to quiescence. Compared to satellites, central galaxies take ~2 Gyr longer to quench their star formation, suggesting that different mechanisms are responsible for quenching centrals versus satellites. Finally, the central galaxy quenching timescale we infer provides key constraints for proposed star formation quenching mechanisms. Our timescale is generally consistent with gas depletion timescales predicted by quenching through strangulation. However, the exact physical mechanism(s) responsible for this remain unclear.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Wetzel, Andrew0000-0003-0603-8942
Additional Information:© 2017 American Astronomical Society. Received 2016 September 14. Accepted 2017 April 12. Published 2017 May 16. C.H.H. was supported by NSF-AST-1109432 and NSF-AST-1211644. A.W. was supported by a Caltech-Carnegie Fellowship, in part through the Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics at Caltech. We thank Charlie Conroy and Michael R. Blanton for helpful discussions. We also thank the referee for the thorough review of our work and the constructive report that substantially improved the quality of the paper. C.H.H. also thanks the Instituto de Física Teoórica (UAM/CSIC) and particularly Francisco Prada for their hospitality during his summer visit, where part of this work was completed.
Group:Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Caltech-Carnegie FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Caltech Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and PhysicsUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:galaxies: clusters: general; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: groups: general; galaxies: halos; galaxies: star formation; methods: numerical
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170516-100219721
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Official Citation:ChangHoon Hahn et al 2017 ApJ 841 6
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:77489
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:16 May 2017 19:28
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 17:58

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