Galaxy Evolution in Overdense Environments at High Redshift: Passive Early-type Galaxies in a Cluster at z ~ 2

August 2013 • 2013ApJ...772..118S

Authors • Strazzullo, V. • Gobat, R. • Daddi, E. • Onodera, M. • Carollo, M. • Dickinson, M. • Renzini, A. • Arimoto, N. • Cimatti, A. • Finoguenov, A. • Chary, R. -R.

Abstract • We present a study of galaxy populations in the central region of the IRAC-selected, X-ray-detected galaxy cluster Cl J1449+0856 at z = 2. Based on a sample of spectroscopic and photometric cluster members, we investigate stellar populations and the morphological structure of cluster galaxies over an area of ~0.7 Mpc2 around the cluster core. The cluster stands out as a clear overdensity both in redshift space and in the spatial distribution of galaxies close to the center of the extended X-ray emission. The cluster core region (r < 200 kpc) shows a clearly enhanced passive fraction with respect to field levels. However, together with a population of massive, passive galaxies mostly with early-type morphologies, the cluster core also hosts massive, actively star-forming, often highly dust reddened sources. Close to the cluster center, a multi-component system of passive and star-forming galaxies could represent the future brightest cluster galaxy still forming. We observe a clear correlation between passive stellar populations and an early-type morphology, in agreement with field studies at similar redshift. Passive early-type galaxies in this cluster are typically a factor of 2-3 smaller than similarly massive early types at z ~ 0. On the other hand, these same objects are on average larger by a factor of ~2 than field early-types at similar redshift, lending support to recent claims of an accelerated structural evolution in high-redshift dense environments. These results point toward the early formation of a population of massive galaxies, already evolved both in their structure and stellar populations, coexisting with still actively forming massive galaxies in the central regions of young clusters 10 billion years ago.


IPAC Authors

Ranga-Ram Chary

Senior Scientist