Volume 624, April 2019
|Number of page(s)||20|
|Published online||15 April 2019|
Quenching by gas compression and consumption
A case study of a massive radio galaxy at z = 2.57
European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, Garching bei München 85748, Germany
2 Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, 50 St. George Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3H4, Canada
e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Sorbonne Université, CNRS UMR 7095, Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, 98 bis bd Arago, 75014 Paris, France
Accepted: 22 February 2019
The objective of this work is to study how active galactic nuclei (AGN) influence star formation in host galaxies. We present a detailed investigation of the star-formation history and conditions of a z = 2.57 massive radio galaxy based on VLT/X-shooter and ALMA observations. The deep rest-frame ultraviolet spectrum contains photospheric absorption lines and wind features indicating the presence of OB-type stars. The most significantly detected photospheric features are used to characterize the recent star formation: neither instantaneous nor continuous star-formation history is consistent with the relative strength of the Si IIλ1485 and S Vλ1502 absorption. Rather, at least two bursts of star formation took place in the recent past, at 6+1-2 Myr and ≳20 Myr ago, respectively. We deduce a molecular H2 gas mass of (3.9 ± 1.0) × 1010 M⊙ based on ALMA observations of the [C I] 3P2−3P1 emission. The molecular gas mass is only 13% of its stellar mass. Combined with its high star-formation rate of (1020-170+190 M⊙ yr-1, this implies a high star-formation efficiency of (26 ± 8) Gyr−1 and a short depletion time of (38 ± 12) Myr. We attribute the efficient star formation to compressive gas motions in order to explain the modest velocity dispersions (⩽55 km s−1) of the photospheric lines and of the star-forming gas traced by [C I]. Because of the likely very young age of the radio source, our findings suggest that vigorous star formation consumes much of the gas and works in concert with the AGN to remove any residual molecular gas, and eventually quenching star formation in massive galaxies.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: high-redshift / galaxies: jets / galaxies: starburst / galaxies: star clusters: general / ultraviolet: stars
© ESO 2019
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