Luminosity function constraints on the evolution of massive red galaxies since z∼ 0.9

R. Cool, D. Eisenstein, X. Fan, M. Fukugita, L. Jiang, Claudia Maraston, A. Meiksin, D. Schneider, D. Wake

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Abstract

We measure the evolution of the luminous red galaxy (LRG) luminosity function in the redshift range 0.1 < z < 0.9 using samples of galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey as well as new spectroscopy of high-redshift massive red galaxies. Our high-redshift sample of galaxies is largest spectroscopic sample of massive red galaxies at z ~ 0.9 collected to date and covers 7 deg2, minimizing the impact of large-scale structure on our results. We find that the LRG population has evolved little beyond the passive fading of its stellar populations since z ~ 0.9. Based on our luminosity function measurements and assuming a nonevolving Salpeter stellar initial mass function, we find that the most massive (L > 3L*) red galaxies have grown by less than 50% (at 99% confidence), since z = 0.9, in stark contrast to the factor of 2-4 growth observed in the L* red galaxy population over the same epoch. We also investigate the evolution of the average LRG spectrum since z ~ 0.9 and find the high-redshift composite to be well described as a passively evolving example of the composite galaxy observed at low redshift. From spectral fits to the composite spectra, we find at most 5% of the stellar mass in massive red galaxies may have formed within 1 Gyr of z = 0.9. While L* red galaxies are clearly assembled at z < 1, 3L* galaxies appear to be largely in place and evolve little beyond the passive evolution of their stellar populations over the last half of cosmic history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-936
Number of pages18
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Volume682
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2008

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