The Impossibly Early Galaxy Problem

June 2016 • 2016ApJ...824...21S

Authors • Steinhardt, Charles. L. • Capak, Peter • Masters, Dan • Speagle, Josh S.

Abstract • The current hierarchical merging paradigm and ΛCDM predict that the z∼ 4-8 universe should be a time in which the most massive galaxies are transitioning from their initial halo assembly to the later baryonic evolution seen in star-forming galaxies and quasars. However, no evidence of this transition has been found in many high-redshift galaxy surveys including CFHTLS, Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Survey (CANDELS), and Spitzer Large Area Survey with Hyper-Suprime-Cam (SPLASH), which were the first studies to probe the high-mass end at these redshifts. Indeed, if halo mass to stellar mass ratios estimated at lower-redshift continue to z∼ 6-8, CANDELS and SPLASH report several orders of magnitude more M∼ {10}12-13{M} halos than is possible to have been formed by those redshifts, implying that these massive galaxies formed impossibly early. We consider various systematics in the stellar synthesis models used to estimate physical parameters and possible galaxy formation scenarios in an effort to reconcile observation with theory. Although known uncertainties can greatly reduce the disparity between recent observations and cold dark matter merger simulations, there remains considerable tension with current theory even if taking the most conservative view of the observations.


IPAC Authors


Elise Furlan

Associate Scientist

Daniel Masters

Assistant Scientist