The Typical Massive Quiescent Galaxy at z ∼ 3 is a Post-starburst

C. D'Eugenio, E. Daddi, RAPHAEL ALEXANDRE SIMON GOBAT, V. Strazzullo, P. Lustig, I. Delvecchio, S. Jin, A. Puglisi, A. Calabró, C. Mancini, M. Dickinson, A. Cimatti, M. Onodera

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18 Scopus citations


We have obtained spectroscopic confirmation with Hubble Space Telescope WFC3/G141 of a first sizeable sample of nine quiescent galaxies at 2.4 < z < 3.3. Their average near-UV/optical rest-frame spectrum is characterized by low attenuation (AV ∼ 0.6 mag) and a strong Balmer break, larger than the 4000 break, corresponding to a fairly young age of ∼300 Myr. This formally classifies a substantial fraction of classically selected quiescent galaxies at z ∼ 3 as post-starbursts, marking their convergence to the quenching epoch. The rapid spectral evolution with respect to z ∼ 1.5 quiescent galaxies is not matched by an increase of residual star formation, as judged from the weak detection of [O ii]λ3727 emission, pointing to a flattening of the steep increase in gas fractions previously seen from z ∼ 0 to 1.8. However, radio 3 GHz stacked emission implies either much stronger dust-obscured star formation or substantial further evolution in radio-mode AGN activity with respect to z ∼ 1.5.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL2
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


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