The age-redshift relation for luminous red galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Dan Carson, Bob Nichol

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We present a detailed analysis of 17 852 quiescent, luminous red galaxies (LRGs) selected from Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data Release Seven (DR7) spanning a redshift range of 0.0 < z < 0.4. These galaxies are co-added into four equal bins of velocity dispersion and luminosity to produce high signal-to-noise ratio spectra (>100 Å−1), thus facilitating accurate measurements of the standard Lick absorption-line indices. In particular, we have carefully corrected and calibrated these indices on to the commonly used Lick/Image Dissector Scanner (IDS) system, thus allowing us to compare these data with other measurements in the literature, and derive realistic ages, metallicities ([Z/H]) and -element abundance ratios ([/Fe]) for these galaxies using simple stellar population models. We use these data to study the relationship of these galaxy parameters with redshift and find little evidence for evolution in metallicity or -elements (especially for our intermediate mass samples). This demonstrates that our subsamples are consistent with pure passive evolving (i.e. no chemical evolution) and represent a homogeneous population over this redshift range. We also present the age–redshift relation for these LRGs and clearly see a decrease in their age with redshift (≃5 Gyr over the redshift range studied here) which is fully consistent with the cosmological look-back times in a concordance Λ cold dark matter universe. We also see that our most massive sample of LRGs is the youngest compared to the lower mass galaxies. We provide these data now to help future cosmological and galaxy evolution studies of LRGs and provide in the appendices of this paper the required methodology and information to calibrate SDSS spectra on to the Lick/IDS system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-233
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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