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  1. Abstract

    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 bymore »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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  2. 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
  3. Abstract One of the most common methods for inferring galaxy attenuation curves is via spectral energy distribution (SED) modeling, where the dust attenuation properties are modeled simultaneously with other galaxy physical properties. In this paper, we assess the ability of SED modeling to infer these dust attenuation curves from broadband photometry, and suggest a new flexible model that greatly improves the accuracy of attenuation curve derivations. To do this, we fit mock SEDs generated from the simba cosmological simulation with the prospector SED fitting code. We consider the impact of the commonly assumed uniform screen model and introduce a new nonuniform screen model parameterized by the fraction of unobscured stellar light. This nonuniform screen model allows for a nonzero fraction of stellar light to remain unattenuated, resulting in a more flexible attenuation curve shape by decoupling the shape of the UV attenuation curve from the optical attenuation curve. The ability to constrain the dust attenuation curve is significantly improved with the use of a nonuniform screen model, with the median offset in UV attenuation decreasing from −0.30 dex with a uniform screen model to −0.17 dex with the nonuniform screen model. With this increase in dust attenuation modeling accuracy, wemore »also improve the star formation rates (SFRs) inferred with the nonuniform screen model, decreasing the SFR offset on average by 0.12 dex. We discuss the efficacy of this new model, focusing on caveats with modeling star-dust geometries and the constraining power of available SED observations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  4. Abstract

    We present the stellar population properties of 69 short gamma-ray burst (GRB) host galaxies, representing the largest uniformly modeled sample to date. Using theProspectorstellar population inference code, we jointly fit photometry and/or spectroscopy of each host galaxy. We find a population median redshift ofz=0.640.32+0.83(68% confidence), including nine photometric redshifts atz≳ 1. We further find a median mass-weighted age oftm=0.80.53+2.71Gyr, stellar mass of log(M*/M) =9.690.65+0.75, star formation rate of SFR =1.441.35+9.37Myr−1, stellar metallicity of log(Z*/Z) =0.380.42+0.44, and dust attenuation ofAV=0.430.36+0.85mag (68% confidence). Overall, the majority of short GRB hosts are star-forming (≈84%), with small fractions that are either transitioning (≈6%) or quiescent (≈10%); however, we observe a much larger fraction (≈40%) of quiescent and transitioning hosts atz≲ 0.25, commensurate with galaxy evolution. We find that short GRB hosts populate the star-forming main sequence of normal field galaxies, but do not include as many high-mass galaxies as the general galaxy population, implying that their binary neutron star (BNS) merger progenitors are dependent on a combination of host star formation and stellar mass. The distribution of ages and redshifts implies a broad delay-time distribution,more »with a fast-merging channel atz> 1 and a decreased neutron star binary formation efficiency from high to low redshifts. If short GRB hosts are representative of BNS merger hosts within the horizon of current gravitational wave detectors, these results can inform future searches for electromagnetic counterparts. All of the data and modeling products are available on the Broadband Repository for Investigating Gamma-ray burst Host Traits website.

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  5. Abstract We present the complete set of Hubble Space Telescope imaging of the binary neutron star merger GW170817 and its optical counterpart AT 2017gfo. Including deep template imaging in F814W, F110W, F140W, and F160W at 3.4 yr post-merger, we reanalyze the full light curve of AT 2017gfo across 12 bands from 5 to 1273 rest-frame days after merger. We obtain four new detections of the short γ -ray burst 170817A afterglow from 109 to 170 rest-frame days post-merger. These detections are consistent with the previously observed β = −0.6 spectral index in the afterglow light curve with no evidence for spectral evolution. We also analyze our limits in the context of kilonova afterglow or IR dust echo emission but find that our limits are not constraining for these models. We use the new data to construct deep optical and IR stacks, reaching limits of M = −6.3 to −4.6 mag, to analyze the local environment around AT 2017gfo and low surface brightness features in its host galaxy NGC 4993. We rule out the presence of any globular cluster at the position of AT 2017gfo to 2.3 × 10 4 L ⊙ , including those with the reddest V − Hmore »colors. Finally, we analyze the substructure of NGC 4993 in deep residual imaging and find shell features that extend up to 71.″8 (14.2 kpc) from NGC 4993. The shells have a cumulative stellar mass of 6.3 × 10 8 M ⊙ , roughly 2% of NGC 4993, and mass-weighted ages of >3 Gyr. We conclude that it was unlikely that the GW170817 progenitor system formed in the galaxy merger.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  6. Abstract We describe the Studying Quenching in Intermediate- z Galaxies: Gas, angu L → ar momentum, and Evolution ( SQuIGG L ⃗ E ) survey of intermediate-redshift post-starburst galaxies. We leverage the large sky coverage of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to select ∼ 1300 recently quenched galaxies at 0.5 < z ≤ 0.9 based on their unique spectral shapes. These bright, intermediate-redshift galaxies are ideal laboratories to study the physics responsible for the rapid quenching of star formation: they are distant enough to be useful analogs for high-redshift quenching galaxies, but low enough redshift that multiwavelength follow-up observations are feasible with modest telescope investments. We use the Prospector code to infer the stellar population properties and nonparametric star formation histories (SFHs) of all galaxies in the sample. We find that SQuIGG L ⃗ E galaxies are both very massive ( M * ∼ 10 11.25 M ⊙ ) and quenched, with inferred star formation rates ≲1 M ⊙ yr −1 , more than an order of magnitude below the star-forming main sequence. The best-fit SFHs confirm that these galaxies recently quenched a major burst of star formation: >75% of SQuIGG L ⃗ E galaxies formed at least a quartermore »of their total stellar mass in the recent burst, which ended just ∼200 Myr before observation. We find that SQuIGG L ⃗ E galaxies are on average younger and more burst-dominated than most other z ≲ 1 post-starburst galaxy samples. This large sample of bright post-starburst galaxies at intermediate redshift opens a wide range of studies into the quenching process. In particular, the full SQuIGG L ⃗ E survey will investigate the molecular gas reservoirs, morphologies, kinematics, resolved stellar populations, active galactic nucleus incidence, and infrared properties of this unique sample of galaxies in order to place definitive constraints on the quenching process.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  7. Abstract

    Calcium-rich (Ca-rich) transients are a new class of supernovae (SNe) that are known for their comparatively rapid evolution, modest peak luminosities, and strong nebular calcium emission lines. Currently, the progenitor systems of Ca-rich transients remain unknown. Although they exhibit spectroscopic properties not unlike core-collapse Type Ib/c SNe, nearly half are found in the outskirts of their host galaxies, which are predominantly elliptical, suggesting a closer connection to the older stellar populations of SNe Ia. In this paper, we present a compilation of publicly available multiwavelength observations of all known and/or suspected host galaxies of Ca-rich transients ranging from far-UV to IR, and use these data to characterize their stellar populations withprospector. We estimate several galaxy parameters including integrated star formation rate, stellar mass, metallicity, and age. For nine host galaxies, the observations are sensitive enough to obtain nonparametric star formation histories, from which we recover SN rates and estimate probabilities that the Ca-rich transients in each of these host galaxies originated from a core-collapse versus Type Ia-like explosion. Our work supports the notion that the population of Ca-rich transients do not come exclusively from core-collapse explosions, and must either be only from white dwarf stars or a mixed populationmore »of white dwarf stars with other channels, potentially including massive star explosions. Additional photometry and explosion site spectroscopy of larger samples of Ca-rich host galaxies will improve these estimates and better constrain the ratio of white dwarf versus massive star progenitors of Ca-rich transients.

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  8. Abstract Observations of cold molecular gas reservoirs are critical for understanding the shutdown of star formation in massive galaxies. While dust continuum is an efficient and affordable tracer, this method relies upon the assumption of a “normal” molecular-gas to dust mass ratio, δ GDR , typically of order 100. Recent null detections of quiescent galaxies in deep dust continuum observations support a picture where the cold gas and dust have been rapidly depleted or expelled. In this work, we present another viable explanation: a significant fraction of galaxies with low star formation per unit stellar mass are predicted to have extreme δ GDR ratios. We show that simulated massive quiescent galaxies at 0 < z < 3 in the simba cosmological simulations have δ GDR values that extend >4 orders of magnitude. The dust in most simulated quiescent galaxies is destroyed significantly more rapidly than the molecular gas depletes, and cannot be replenished. The transition from star-forming to quiescent halts dust formation via star formation processes, with dust subsequently destroyed by supernova shocks and thermal sputtering of dust grains embedded in hot plasma. After this point, the dust growth rate in the models is not sufficient to overcome the lossmore »of >3 orders of magnitude in dust mass to return to normal values of δ GDR despite having high metallicity. Our results indicate that it is not straight forward to use a single observational indicator to robustly preselect exotic versus normal ratios. These simulations make strong predictions that can be tested with millimeter facilities.« less