Reconstructing the formation of massive galaxies from their SHARDS

Dr. Pablo G. Pérez González


One of the most widely researched topics in Extragalactic Astrophysics
in the last decades is how early-type galaxies have formed their stars
and assembled. In this context, we now have unequivocal observational
evidences about the existence of a numerous population of massive
galaxies which not only had assembled a considerable amount of stars
(~10^11 M_sun) by z~2, but were already evolving passively by that
time. These galaxies, the likely progenitors of nearby ellipticals,
are also quite compact in comparison with local galaxies of the same
mass. These result are mainly based on measurements designed to obtain
stellar masses and sizes, and our estimations of these parameters are
now quite robust. Now we need a more secure determination of how
exactly they formed and assembled their stellar mass in just 2-3 Gyr
(z>2). In other words, how was their Star Formation History and which
are the properties (age, metallicity, dust content) of their stellar
populations? And how could they end up with such high masses and small
sizes? In this talk, we will present our results about the SFH (mainly
ages and duty cycles) of massive galaxies at z=1-3 based on the
deepest spectro-photometric data ever taken. These data were gathered
by the Survey for High-z Absorption Red and Dead Sources (SHARDS), a
ESO/GTC Large Program aimed at obtaining R~50 optical spectra of
distant galaxies. This resolution is especially suited to measure
absorption indices such as D(4000), Mg_UV, the Balmer break,etc.. for
galaxies up to z~3 (merging our SHARDS data with HST/WFC3 grism
observations) or emission-line fluxes for faint targets up to
z~6. These measurements represent a big step forward for the robust
determination of the stellar population properties, providing a much
more certain characterization of the stellar content of distant
galaxies than the typical broad-band studies. Our results uniquely
allow to study the stellar content of red and dead galaxies at z~2 and
identify progenitors at higher redshifts, as well as helping to
constrain the models of galaxy formation.

About the talk

Reconstructing the formation of massive galaxies from their SHARDS
Dr. Pablo G. Pérez González
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Thursday May 15, 2014
en     en

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