The VANDELS survey: the star-formation histories of massive quiescent galaxies at 1.0 < z < 1.3

24 Oct 2019  ·  Carnall A. C., McLure R. J., Dunlop J. S., Cullen F., McLeod D. J., Wild V., Johnson B. D., Appleby S., Davé R., Amorin R., Bolzonella M., Castellano M., Cimatti A., Cucciati O., Gargiulo A., Garilli B., Marchi F., Pentericci L., Pozzetti L., Schreiber C., Talia M., Zamorani G. ·

We present a Bayesian full-spectral-fitting analysis of 75 massive ($M_* > 10^{10.3} M_\odot$) UVJ-selected galaxies at redshifts of $1.0 < z < 1.3$, combining extremely deep rest-frame ultraviolet spectroscopy from VANDELS with multi-wavelength photometry. By the use of a sophisticated physical plus systematic uncertainties model, constructed within the Bagpipes code, we place strong constraints on the star-formation histories (SFHs) of individual objects. We firstly constrain the stellar mass vs stellar age relationship, finding a steep trend towards earlier average formation with increasing stellar mass of $1.48^{+0.34}_{-0.39}$ Gyr per decade in mass, although this shows signs of flattening at $M_* > 10^{11} M_\odot$. We show that this is consistent with other spectroscopic studies from $0 < z < 2$. This relationship places strong constraints on the AGN-feedback models used in cosmological simulations. We demonstrate that, although the relationships predicted by Simba and IllustrisTNG agree well with observations at $z=0.1$, they are too shallow at $z=1$, predicting an evolution of $<0.5$ Gyr per decade in mass. Secondly, we consider the connections between green-valley, post-starburst and quiescent galaxies, using our inferred SFH shapes and the distributions of galaxy physical properties on the UVJ diagram. The majority of our lowest-mass galaxies ($M_* \sim 10^{10.5} M_\odot$) are consistent with formation in recent ($z<2$), intense starburst events, with timescales of $\lesssim500$ Myr. A second class of objects experience extended star-formation epochs before rapidly quenching, passing through both green-valley and post-starburst phases. The most massive galaxies in our sample are extreme systems: already old by $z=1$, they formed at $z\sim5$ and quenched by $z=3$. However, we find evidence for their continued evolution through both AGN and rejuvenated star-formation activity.

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Astrophysics of Galaxies Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics