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Quiescent galaxies 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang and their progenitors

Valentino, Francesco and Tanaka, Masayuki and Davidzon, Iary and Toft, Sune and Gómez-Guijarro, Carlos and Stockmann, Mikkel and Onodera, Masato and Brammer, Gabriel and Ceverino, Daniel and Faisst, Andreas L. and Gallazzi, Anna and Hayward, Christopher C. and Ilbert, Olivier and Kubo, Mariko and Magdis, Georgios E. and Selsing, Jonatan and Shimakawa, Rhythm and Sparre, Martin and Steinhardt, Charles and Yabe, Kiyoto and Zabl, Johannes (2020) Quiescent galaxies 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang and their progenitors. Astrophysical Journal, 889 (2). Art. No. 93. ISSN 1538-4357. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ab64dc.

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We report two secure (z = 3.775; 4.012) and one tentative (z ≈ 3.767) spectroscopic confirmations of massive and quiescent galaxies through K-band observations with Keck/MOSFIRE and Very Large Telescope/X-Shooter. The stellar continuum emission, absence of strong nebular emission lines, and lack of significant far-infrared detections confirm the passive nature of these objects, disfavoring the alternative solution of low-redshift dusty star-forming interlopers. We derive stellar masses of log(M⋆/M⊙) ~ 11 and ongoing star formation rates placing these galaxies ≳ 1–2 dex below the main sequence at their redshifts. The adopted parameterization of the star formation history suggests that these sources experienced a strong (〈SFR〉 ~1200 - 3500 M⊙ yr⁻¹) and short (~50 Myr) burst of star formation, peaking ~150–500 Myr before the time of observation, all properties reminiscent of the characteristics of submillimeter galaxies (SMGs) at z > 4. We investigate this connection by comparing the comoving number densities and the properties of these two populations. We find a fair agreement only with the deepest submillimeter surveys detecting not only the most extreme starbursts but also more normal galaxies. We support these findings by further exploring the Illustris TNG cosmological simulation, retrieving populations of both fully quenched massive galaxies at z ~ 3–4 and SMGs at z ~ 4−5, with number densities and properties in agreement with the observations at z ~ 3 but in increasing tension at higher redshift. Nevertheless, as suggested by the observations, not all of the progenitors of quiescent galaxies at these redshifts shine as bright SMGs in their past, and, similarly, not all bright SMGs quench by z ~ 3, both fractions depending on the threshold assumed to define the SMGs themselves.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Tanaka, Masayuki0000-0002-5011-5178
Davidzon, Iary0000-0002-2951-7519
Toft, Sune0000-0003-3631-7176
Gómez-Guijarro, Carlos0000-0002-4085-9165
Stockmann, Mikkel0000-0001-5983-6273
Brammer, Gabriel0000-0003-2680-005X
Ceverino, Daniel0000-0002-8680-248X
Faisst, Andreas L.0000-0002-9382-9832
Hayward, Christopher C.0000-0003-4073-3236
Ilbert, Olivier0000-0002-7303-4397
Magdis, Georgios E.0000-0002-4872-2294
Sparre, Martin0000-0002-9735-3851
Steinhardt, Charles0000-0003-3780-6801
Additional Information:© 2020 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2019 September 23; revised 2019 December 19; accepted 2019 December 20; published 2020 January 29. We acknowledge the constructive comments from the anonymous referee that improved the content and presentation of the results. We warmly thank Corentin Schreiber for the useful discussions and guidance in the use of Slinefit and Fast++. F.V. thanks Davide Martizzi for discussions about the Illustris simulations and Tao Wang and Helmut Dannerbauer for comments about the submillimeter galaxy samples. F.V. and G.M. acknowledge Villum Fonden research grant 13160, "Gas to stars, stars to dust: tracing star formation across cosmic time," and Carlsbergfondet research grant CF18-0388, "Galaxies: Rise and Death." S.T., M.S., C.G.G., and G.M. acknowledge support from the European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant funding scheme (project "ConTExt," grant No. 648179). The Cosmic Dawn Center (DAWN) is funded by the Danish National Research Foundation under grant No. 140. M.O. acknowledges support from JSPS KAKENHI grant No. JP17K14257. M.S. acknowledges support by the European Research Council under ERC-CoG grant CRAGSMAN-646955. O.I. acknowledges the funding of the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche for the project "SAGACE" and the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES). K.Y. was supported by JSPS KAKENHI grant No. JP18K13578. The Flatiron Institute is supported by the Simons Foundation. Based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory under ESO program 0100.B-0922(A). Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. The observations were carried out within the framework of the Subaru–Keck time exchange program, where the travel expense was supported by the Subaru Telescope, which is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Maunakea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Carlsberg FoundationCF18-0388
European Research Council (ERC)648179
Danish National Research Foundation140
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)JP17K14257
European Research Council (ERC)646955
Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR)UNSPECIFIED
Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES)UNSPECIFIED
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)JP18K13578
Flatiron InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
W. M. Keck FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Galaxy evolution; Elliptical galaxies; Galaxy stellar content (621); Star formation; High-redshift galaxies; Starburst galaxies
Issue or Number:2
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Galaxy evolution (594); Elliptical galaxies (456); Galaxy stellar content (621); Star formation (1569); High-redshift galaxies (734); Starburst galaxies (1570)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20191002-133749400
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Francesco Valentino et al 2020 ApJ 889 93
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:99022
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:02 Oct 2019 21:34
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:43

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