July 2020 • 2020ApJ...897...44S
Abstract • Using the CANDELS photometric catalogs for the Hubble Space Telescope/ACS and WFC3, we identified massive evolved galaxies at 3 < z < 4.5 employing three different selection methods. We find the comoving number density of these objects to be ∼2 × 10-5 and 8 × 10-6 Mpc-3 after correction for completeness for two redshift bins centered at z = 3.4, 4.7. We quantify a measure of how much confidence we should have for each candidate galaxy from different selections and what the conservative error estimates propagated into our selection are. Then we compare the evolution of the corresponding number densities and their stellar mass density with numerical simulations, semianalytical models, and previous observational estimates, which shows slight tension at higher redshifts as the models tend to underestimate the number and mass densities. By estimating the average halo masses of the candidates (Mh ≈ 4.2, 1.9, and 1.3 × 1012 M⊙ for redshift bins centered at z = 3.4, 4.1, and 4.7), we find them to be consistent with halos that were efficient in turning baryons to stars, relatively immune to the feedback effects, and on the verge of transition into hot-mode accretion. This can suggest the relative cosmological starvation of the cold gas followed by an overconsumption phase in which the galaxy rapidly consumes the available cold gas as one of the possible drivers for the quenching of the massive evolved population at high redshift.