Persistence of the colour-density relation and efficient environmental quenching to z ∼ 1.4

November 2019 • 2019MNRAS.490.1231L

Authors • Lemaux, B. C. • Tomczak, A. R. • Lubin, L. M. • Gal, R. R. • Shen, L. • Pelliccia, D. • Wu, P. -F. • Hung, D. • Mei, S. • Le Fèvre, O. • Rumbaugh, N. • Kocevski, D. D. • Squires, G. K.

Abstract • Using ∼5000 spectroscopically confirmed galaxies drawn from the Observations of Redshift Evolution in Large Scale Environments (ORELSE) survey we investigate the relationship between colour and galaxy density for galaxy populations of various stellar masses in the redshift range 0.55 ≤ z ≤ 1.4. The fraction of galaxies with colours consistent with no ongoing star formation (fq) is broadly observed to increase with increasing stellar mass, increasing galaxy density, and decreasing redshift, with clear differences observed in fq between field and group/cluster galaxies at the highest redshifts studied. We use a semi-empirical model to generate a suite of mock group/cluster galaxies unaffected by environmentally specific processes and compare these galaxies at fixed stellar mass and redshift to observed populations to constrain the efficiency of environmentally driven quenching (Ψconvert). High-density environments from 0.55 ≤ z ≤ 1.4 appear capable of efficiently quenching galaxies with log (M_{\ast }/M_{⊙ })> 10.45. Lower stellar mass galaxies also appear efficiently quenched at the lowest redshifts studied here, but this quenching efficiency is seen to drop precipitously with increasing redshift. Quenching efficiencies, combined with simulated group/cluster accretion histories and results on the star formation rate-density relation from a companion ORELSE study, are used to constrain the average time from group/cluster accretion to quiescence and the elapsed time between accretion and the inception of the quenching event. These time-scales were constrained to be <tconvert> = 2.4 ± 0.3 and <tdelay> = 1.3 ± 0.4 Gyr, respectively, for galaxies with log (M_{\ast }/M_{⊙ })> 10.45 and <tconvert> = 3.3 ± 0.3 and <tdelay> = 2.2 ± 0.4 Gyr for lower stellar mass galaxies. These quenching efficiencies and associated time-scales are used to rule out certain environmental mechanisms as being the primary processes responsible for transforming the star formation properties of galaxies over this 4 Gyr window in cosmic time.


IPAC Authors


Gordon Squires

Senior Scientist