Volume 528, April 2011
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Published online||14 March 2011|
Galaxy evolution and star formation efficiency at 0.2 < z < 0.6⋆
Observatoire de Paris, LERMA
(CNRS:UMR8112), 61 Av. de l’Observatoire, 75014 Paris, France
2 Observatorio Astronómico Nacional (OAN)-Observatorio de Madrid, Alfonso XII, 3, 28014- Madrid, Spain
3 Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux, UMR 5804, Université Bordeaux I, BP 89, 33270 Floirac, France
4 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA), Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
5 IEM, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Serrano 121, 28006 Madrid, Spain
Received: 10 September 2010
Accepted: 4 February 2011
We present the results of a CO line survey of 30 galaxies at moderate redshift (z ~ 0.2−0.6), with the IRAM 30 m telescope, with the goal to follow galaxy evolution and in particular the star formation efficiency (SFE) as defined by the ratio between far-infrared luminosity and molecular gas mass (LFIR/M(H2)). The sources are selected to be ultra-luminous infra-red galaxies (ULIRGs), with LFIR larger than 2.8 × 1012 L⊙, experiencing starbursts; adopting a low ULIRG CO-to-H2 conversion factor, their gas consumption time-scale is lower than 108 yr. To date only very few CO observations exist in this redshift range that spans nearly 25% of the universe’s age. Considerable evolution of the star formation rate is already observed during this period. 18 galaxies out of our sample of 30 are detected (of which 16 are new detections), corresponding to a detection rate of 60%. The average CO luminosity for the 18 galaxies detected is K km s-1 pc2, corresponding to an average H2 mass of 1.6 × 1010 M⊙. The FIR luminosity correlates well with the CO luminosity, in agreement with the correlation found for low and high redshift ULIRGs. Although the conversion factor between CO luminosity and H2 mass is uncertain, we find that the maximum amount of gas available for a single galaxy is quickly increasing as a function of redshift. Using the same conversion factor, the SFEs for z ~ 0.2 − 0.6 ULIRGs are found to be significantly higher, by a factor 3, than for local ULIRGs, and are comparable to high redshift ones. We compare this evolution to the expected cosmic H2 abundance and the cosmic star formation history.
Key words: galaxies: high-redshift / galaxies: ISM / galaxies: starburst / radio lines: galaxies
© ESO, 2011
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