A z = 1.82 analog of local ultra-massive elliptical galaxies

M. Onodera, E. Daddi, R. Gobat, M. Cappellari, N. Arimoto, A. Renzini, Y. Yamada, H. J. McCracken, C. Mancini, P. Capak, M. Carollo, A. Cimatti, M. Giavalisco, O. Ilbert, X. Kong, S. Lilly, K. Motohara, K. Ohta, D. B. Sanders, N. ScovilleN. Tamura, Y. Taniguchi

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We present observations of a very massive galaxy at z = 1.82 that show that its morphology, size, velocity dispersion, and stellar population properties are fully consistent with those expected for passively evolving progenitors of today's giant ellipticals. These findings are based on a deep optical rest-frame spectrum obtained with the Multi-Object InfraRed Camera and Spectrograph on the Subaru Telescope of a high-z passive galaxy candidate (pBzK) from the COSMOS field, for which we accurately measure its redshift of z = 1.8230 and obtain an upper limit on its velocity dispersion σ* < 326 km s-1. By detailed stellar population modeling of both the galaxy broadband spectral energy distribution and the rest-frame optical spectrum, we derive a star formation-weighted age and formation redshift of tsf ≃ 1-2 Gyr and zform ≃ 2.5-4, and a stellar mass of M * ≃ (3-4) × 1011 M. This is in agreement with a virial mass limit of Mvir < 7 × 1011 M, derived from the measured σ* value and stellar half-light radius, as well as with the dynamical mass limit based on the Jeans equations. In contrast to previously reported super-dense passive galaxies at z ∼ 2, the present galaxy at z = 1.82 appears to have both size and velocity dispersion similar to early-type galaxies in the local universe with similar stellar mass. This suggests that z 2 massive and passive galaxies may exhibit a wide range of properties, then possibly following quite different evolutionary histories from z ∼ 2 to z = 0.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L6-L11
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1 PART 2
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: high-redshift


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