3 years ago

The MUSE Hubble Ultra Deep Field Survey. IX. Evolution of galaxy merger fraction since z~6.

A. Drake, T. Contini, M. Steinmetz, L. Michel-Dansac, L. Wisotzki, R. Pello, M. Carollo, T. Garel, N. Bouché, B. Epinat, H. Inami, E. Ventou, R. Bacon, P. M. Weilbacher, J. Brinchmann, D. Lam

We provide, for the first time, robust observational constraints on the galaxy major merger fraction up to $z\approx 6$ using spectroscopic close pair counts. Deep Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) observations in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) and Hubble Deep Field South (HDF-S) are used to identify 113 secure close pairs of galaxies among a parent sample of 1801 galaxies spread over a large redshift range ($0.2<z<6$) and stellar masses ($10^7-10^{11} M_\odot$), thus probing about 12 Gyr of galaxy evolution. Stellar masses are estimated from spectral energy distribution (SED) fitting over the extensive UV-to-NIR HST photometry available in these deep Hubble fields, adding Spitzer IRAC bands to better constrain masses for high-redshift ($z\geqslant 3$) galaxies. These stellar masses are used to isolate a sample of 54 major close pairs with a galaxy mass ratio limit of 1:6. Among this sample, 23 pairs are identified at high redshift ($z\geqslant 3$) through their Ly$\alpha$ emission. The sample of major close pairs is divided into five redshift intervals in order to probe the evolution of the merger fraction with cosmic time. Our estimates are in very good agreement with previous close pair counts with a constant increase of the merger fraction up to $z\approx 3$ where it reaches a maximum of 20%. At higher redshift, we show that the fraction slowly decreases down to about 10% at $z\approx6$. The sample is further divided into two ranges of stellar masses using either a constant separation limit of $10^{9.5} M_\odot$ or the median value of stellar mass computed in each redshift bin. Overall, the major close pair fraction for low-mass and massive galaxies follows the same trend.

These new, homogeneous, and robust estimates of the major merger fraction since $z\approx6$ are in good agreement with recent predictions of cosmological numerical simulations.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1711.00423

DOI: arXiv:1711.00423v1

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.