Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published June 20, 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

The Origin of [O II] in Post-starburst and Red-sequence Galaxies in High-redshift Clusters


We present the first results from a near-IR spectroscopic campaign of the Cl1604 supercluster at z ~ 0.9 and the cluster RX J1821.6+6827 at z ~ 0.82 to investigate the nature of [O II] λ3727 emission in cluster galaxies at high redshift. Of the 401 members in Cl1604 and RX J1821+6827 confirmed using the Keck II/DEIMOS spectrograph, 131 galaxies have detectable [O II] emission with no other signs of current star formation activity, as well as strong absorption features indicative of a well-established older stellar population. The combination of these features suggests that the primary source of [O II] emission in these galaxies is not a result of star formation processes, but rather due to the presence of a low-ionization nuclear emission-line region (LINER) or Seyfert component. Using the NIRSPEC spectrograph on the Keck II 10 m telescope, 19 such galaxies were targeted, as well as 6 additional [O II]-emitting cluster members that exhibited signs of ongoing star formation activity. Nearly half (~47%) of the 19 [O II]-emitting, absorption-line-dominated galaxies exhibit [O II] to Hα equivalent width (EW) ratios higher than unity, the typical observed value for star-forming galaxies, with an EW distribution similar to that observed for LINERs at low redshift. A majority (~68%) of these 19 galaxies are classified as LINER/Seyfert based primarily on the emission-line ratio of [N II] λ6584 and Hα. The fraction of LINER/Seyferts increases to ~85% for red [O II]-emitting, absorption-line-dominated galaxies. The LINER/Seyfert galaxies in our Cl1604 sample exhibit average L([O II])/L(Hα) ratios that are significantly higher than that observed in populations of star-forming galaxies, suggesting that [O II] is a poor indicator of star formation in a significant fraction of high-redshift cluster members. From the prevalence of [O II]-emitting, absorption-line-dominated galaxies in both systems and the fraction of such galaxies that are classified as LINER/Seyfert, we estimate that at least ~20% of galaxies in high-redshift clusters with M_* > 10^(10)-10^(10.5) M_⊙ contain a LINER/Seyfert component that can be revealed with line ratios. We also investigate the effect such a population has on the global star formation rate of cluster galaxies and the post-starburst fraction, concluding that LINER/Seyferts must be accounted for if these quantities are to be physically meaningful.

Additional Information

© 2010 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2009 October 11; accepted 2010 April 27; published 2010 May 25. We thank Jeff Newman and Michael Cooper for guidance with the spec2d reduction pipeline and for the many useful suggestions and modifications necessary to reduce our DEIMOS data. We thank Nick Konidaris for help with DEIMOS flux calibration and for useful discussions on equivalent width measurements in DEIMOS data. We also thank Chris Fassnacht for providing his notes on NIRSPEC observations and the Keck II support astronomers for their help with the observations. B.C.L. thanks Gary Creason for his patience and guidance. This material is based upon work supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Award NNG05GC34G for the Long Term Space Astrophysics Program. The spectrographic 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. We thank the indigenous Hawaiian community for allowing us to be guests on their sacred mountain; we are most fortunate to be able to conduct observations from this site.

Attached Files

Published - Lemaux2010p10453Astrophys_J.pdf


Files (3.0 MB)
Name Size Download all
3.0 MB Preview Download

Additional details

August 19, 2023
October 20, 2023