Volume 522, November 2010
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Published online||27 October 2010|
Stellar mass and velocity functions of galaxies
Backward evolution and the fate of Milky Way siblings
Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, Université de Provence, CNRS
38 rue Frédéric Joliot Curie,
Marseille Cedex 13,
e-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Accepted: 20 May 2010
Context. In recent years, stellar mass functions of both star-forming and quiescent galaxies have been observed at different redshifts in various fields. In addition, star formation rate (SFR) distributions (e.g. in the form of far infrared luminosity functions) were also obtained. Taken together, they offer complementary pieces of information concerning the evolution of galaxies.
Aims. We attempt in this paper to check the consistency of the observed stellar mass functions, SFR functions, and the cosmic SFR density with simple backward evolutionary models.
Methods. Starting from observed stellar mass functions for star-forming galaxies, we use backwards models to predict the evolution of a number of quantities, such as the SFR function, the cosmic SFR density and the velocity function. Because the velocity is a parameter attached to a galaxy during its history (contrary to the stellar mass), this approach allows us to quantify the number density evolution of galaxies of a given velocity, e.g. of the Milky Way siblings.
Results. Observations suggest that the stellar mass function of star-forming galaxies is constant between redshift 0 and 1. To reproduce this result, we must quench star formation in a number of star-forming galaxies. The stellar mass function of these “quenched” galaxies is consistent with available data concerning the increase in the population of quiescent galaxies in the same redshift interval. The stellar mass function of quiescent galaxies is then mainly determined by the distribution of active galaxies that must stop star formation, with a modest mass redistribution during mergers. The cosmic SFR density and the evolution of the SFR functions are recovered relatively well, although they provide some clues to a minor evolution of the stellar mass function of star forming galaxies at the lowest redshifts. We thus consider that we have obtained in a simple way a relatively consistent picture of the evolution of galaxies at intermediate redshifts. If this picture is correct, 50% of the Milky-Way sisters (galaxies with the same velocity as our Galaxy, i.e. 220 km s-1) have quenched their star formation since redshift 1 (and an even higher fraction for higher velocities). We discuss the processes that might be responsible for this transformation.
Key words: galaxies: luminosity functions, mass function / galaxies: high-redshift / galaxies: formation / galaxies: evolution
© ESO, 2010
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