The high-mass end of the stellar mass function: dependence on stellar population models and agreement between fits to the light profile

Mariangela Bernardi, A. Meert, Ravi Kartik Sheth, Johanna-Laina Fischer, M. Huertas-Company, C. Maraston, F. Shankar, V. Vikram

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Abstract

We quantify the systematic effects on the stellar mass function that arise from assumptions about the stellar population, as well as how one fits the light profiles of the most luminous galaxies at z ∼ 0.1. When comparing results from the literature, we are careful to separate out these effects. Our analysis shows that while systematics in the estimated comoving number density that arise from different treatments of the stellar population remain of the order of ≤0.5 dex, systematics in photometry are now about 0.1 dex, in contrast to some recent claims in the literature. Compared to these more recent analyses, previous work based on Sloan Digital Sky Survey pipeline photometry leads to underestimates of ρ*(≥M*) by factors of 3–10 in the mass range 1011–1011.6 M⊙, but up to a factor of 100 at higher stellar masses. This impacts studies that match massive galaxies to dark matter haloes. Although systematics that arise from different treatments of the stellar population remain of the order of ≤0.5 dex, our finding that systematics in photometry now amount to only about 0.1 dex in the stellar mass density is a significant improvement with respect to a decade ago. Our results highlight the importance of using the same stellar population and photometric models whenever low- and high-redshift samples are compared.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2217-2233
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume467
Issue number2
Early online date23 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

Keywords

  • galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • galaxies: luminosity function
  • mass function
  • galaxies: photometry

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