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Title: Molecular Gas Reservoirs in Massive Quiescent Galaxies at z ∼ 0.7 Linked to Late-time Star Formation

We explore how the presence of detectable molecular gas depends on the inferred star formation histories (SFHs) in eight massive, quiescent galaxies atz∼ 0.7. Half of the sample have clear detections of molecular gas, traced by CO(2–1). We find that the molecular gas content is unrelated to the rate of star formation decline prior to the most recent 1 Gyr, suggesting that the gas reservoirs are not left over from their primary star formation epoch. However, the recent SFHs of CO-detected galaxies demonstrate evidence for secondary bursts of star formation in their last Gyr. The fraction of stellar mass formed in these secondary bursts ranges fromfburst≈ 0.3%–6% and ended betweentend-burst≈ 0–330 Myr ago. The CO-detected galaxies form a higher fraction of mass in the last Gyr (fM1Gyr=2.6%±1.8%) compared to the CO-undetected galaxies (fM1Gyr=0.2%±0.1%). The galaxies with gas reservoirs have enhanced late-time star formation, highlighting this as a contributing factor to the observed heterogeneity in the gas reservoirs in high-redshift quiescent galaxies. We find that the amount of gas and star formation driven by these secondary bursts are inconsistent with that expected from dry minor mergers, and instead are likely driven by more » recently accreted gas, i.e., gas-rich minor mergers. This conclusion would not have been made based on SFRUV+IRmeasurements alone, highlighting the power of detailed SFH modeling in the interpretation of gas reservoirs. Larger samples are needed to understand the frequency of low-level rejuvenation among quiescent galaxies at intermediate redshifts, and to what extent this drives the diversity of molecular gas reservoirs.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 39
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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