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  1. Abstract

    We present ultradeep Keck/MOSFIRE rest-optical spectra of two star-forming galaxies atz= 2.18 in the COSMOS field with bright emission lines, representing more than 20 hr of total integration. The fidelity of these spectra enabled the detection of more than 20 unique emission lines for each galaxy, including the first detection of the auroral [Oii]λλ7322, 7332 lines at high redshift. We use these measurements to calculate the electron temperature in the low-ionization O+zone of the ionized interstellar medium and derive abundance ratios of O/H, N/H, and N/O using the direct method. The N/O andα/Fe abundance patterns of these galaxies are consistent with rapid formation timescales and ongoing strong starbursts, in accord with their high specific star formation rates. These results demonstrate the feasibility of using auroral [Oii] measurements for accurate metallicity studies at high redshift in a higher-metallicity and lower-excitation regime previously unexplored with the direct method in distant galaxies. These results also highlight the difficulty in obtaining the measurements required for direct-method metallicities from the ground. We emphasize the advantages that the JWST/NIRSpec instrument will bring to high-redshift metallicity studies, where the combination of increased sensitivity and uninterrupted wavelength coverage will yield more than an order of magnitude increasemore »in efficiency for multiplexed auroral-line surveys relative to current ground-based facilities. Consequently, the advent of JWST promises to be the beginning of a new era of precision chemical abundance studies of the early universe at a level of detail rivaling that of local galaxy studies.

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  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  6. Abstract Accurate models of the star formation histories (SFHs) of recently quenched galaxies can provide constraints on when and how galaxies shut down their star formation. The recent development of nonparametric SFH models promises the flexibility required to make these measurements. However, model and prior choices significantly affect derived SFHs, particularly for post-starburst galaxies (PSBs), which have sharp changes in their recent SFH. In this paper, we create mock PSBs, then use the Prospector SED fitting software to test how well four different SFH models recover key properties. We find that a two-component parametric model performs well for our simple mock galaxies, but is sensitive to model mismatches. The fixed- and flexible-bin nonparametric models included in Prospector are able to rapidly quench a major burst of star formation, but systematically underestimate the post-burst age by up to 200 Myr. We develop a custom SFH model that allows for additional flexibility in the recent SFH. Our flexible nonparametric model is able to constrain post-burst ages with no significant offset and just ∼90 Myr of scatter. Our results suggest that while standard nonparametric models are able to recover first-order quantities of the SFH (mass, SFR, average age), accurately recovering higher-order quantities (burstmore »fraction, quenching time) requires careful consideration of model flexibility. These mock recovery tests are a critical part of future SFH studies. Finally, we show that our new, public SFH model is able to accurately recover the properties of mock star-forming and quiescent galaxies and is suitable for broader use in the SED fitting community. https://github.com/bd-j/prospector« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  7. ABSTRACT

    We present a detailed study of a galaxy merger taking place at z = 1.89 in the GOODS-S field. Here, we analyse Keck/MOSFIRE spectroscopic observations from the MOSFIRE Deep Evolution Field (MOSDEF) survey along with multiwavelength photometry assembled by the 3D-HST survey. The combined data set is modelled to infer the past star formation histories (SFHs) of both merging galaxies. They are found to be massive, with log10(M*/M⊙) > 11, with a close mass ratio satisfying the typical major-merger definition. Additionally, in the context of delayed-τ models, GOODS-S 43114, and GOODS-S 43683 have similar SFHs and low star formation rates (log10(SFR(SED)/${\rm M}_{\odot }\,\rm {yr}^{-1}$) < 1.0) compared to their past averages. The best-fitting model SEDs show elevated H δA values for both galaxies, indicating that their stellar spectra are dominated by A-type stars, and that star formation peaked ∼0.5−1 Gyr ago and has recently declined. Additionally, based on SED fitting both merging galaxies turned on and shut off star formation within a few hundred Myr of each other, suggesting that their bursts of star formation may be linked. Combining the SFHs and H δA results with recent galaxy merger simulations, we infer that these galaxies have recently completed their first pericentric passage andmore »are moving apart. Finally, the relatively low second velocity moment of GOODS-S 43114, given its stellar mass suggests a disc-like structure. However, including the geometry of the galaxy in the modelling does not completely resolve the discrepancy between the dynamical and stellar masses. Future work is needed to resolve this inconsistency in mass.

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  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  9. Abstract

    Observations and simulations have demonstrated that star formation in galaxies must be actively suppressed to prevent the formation of overly massive galaxies. Galactic outflows driven by stellar feedback or supermassive black hole accretion are often invoked to regulate the amount of cold molecular gas available for future star formation but may not be the only relevant quenching processes in all galaxies. We present the discovery of vast molecular tidal features extending up to 64 kpc outside of a massivez= 0.646 post-starburst galaxy that recently concluded its primary star-forming episode. The tidal tails contain (1.2 ± 0.1) × 1010Mof molecular gas, 47% ± 5% of the total cold gas reservoir of the system. Both the scale and magnitude of the molecular tidal features are unprecedented compared to all known nearby or high-redshift merging systems. We infer that the cold gas was stripped from the host galaxies during the merger, which is most likely responsible for triggering the initial burst phase and the subsequent suppression of star formation. While only a single example, this result shows that galaxy mergers can regulate the cold gas contents in distant galaxies by directly removing a large fraction of the molecular gas fuel, and plausiblymore »suppress star formation directly, a qualitatively different physical mechanism than feedback-driven outflows.

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  10. Abstract We present structural measurements of 145 spectroscopically selected intermediate-redshift ( z ∼ 0.7), massive ( M ⋆ ∼ 10 11 M ⊙ ) post-starburst galaxies from the SQuIGG L ⃗ E sample measured using wide-depth Hyper Suprime-Cam i -band imaging. This deep imaging allows us to probe the sizes and structures of these galaxies, which we compare to a control sample of star-forming and quiescent galaxies drawn from the LEGA-C Survey. We find that post-starburst galaxies systematically lie ∼0.1 dex below the quiescent mass–size (half-light radius) relation, with a scatter of ∼0.2 dex. This finding is bolstered by nonparametric measures, such as the Gini coefficient and the concentration, which also reveal these galaxies to have more compact light profiles than both quiescent and star-forming populations at similar mass and redshift. The sizes of post-starburst galaxies show either negative or no correlation with the time since quenching, such that more recently quenched galaxies are larger or similarly sized. This empirical finding disfavors the formation of post-starburst galaxies via a purely central burst of star formation that simultaneously shrinks the galaxy and shuts off star formation. We show that the central densities of post-starburst and quiescent galaxies at this epoch aremore »very similar, in contrast with their effective radii. The structural properties of z ∼ 0.7 post-starburst galaxies match those of quiescent galaxies that formed in the early universe, suggesting that rapid quenching in the present epoch is driven by a similar mechanism to the one at high redshift.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023