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  1. Abstract

    The molecular gas in galaxies traces both the fuel for star formation and the processes that can enhance or suppress star formation. Observations of the molecular gas state can thus point to when and why galaxies stop forming stars. In this study, we present Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array observations of the molecular gas in galaxies evolving through the post-starburst phase. These galaxies have low current star formation rates (SFRs), regardless of the SFR tracer used, with recent starbursts ending within the last 600 Myr. We present CO (3–2) observations for three post-starburst galaxies, and dense gas HCN/HCO+/HNC (1–0) observations for six (four new) post-starburst galaxies. The post-starbursts have low excitation traced by the CO spectral-line energy distribution up to CO (3–2), more similar to early-type than starburst galaxies. The low excitation indicates that lower density rather than high temperatures may suppress star formation during the post-starburst phase. One galaxy displays a blueshifted outflow traced by CO (3–2). MaNGA observations show that the ionized gas velocity is disturbed relative to the stellar velocity field, with a blueshifted component aligned with the molecular gas outflow, suggestive of a multiphase outflow. Low ratios of HCO+/CO, indicating low fractions of dense molecular gasmore »relative to the total molecular gas, are seen throughout post-starburst phase, except for the youngest post-starburst galaxy considered here. These observations indicate that the impact of any feedback or quenching processes may be limited to low excitation and weak outflows in the cold molecular gas during the post-starburst phase.

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  2. Abstract

    One of the most fundamental baryonic matter components of galaxies is the neutral atomic hydrogen (Hi). At low redshifts, this component can be traced directly through the 21 cm transition, but to infer the Higas content of the most distant galaxies, a viable tracer is needed. We here investigate the fidelity of the fine-structure transition of the (2P3/22P1/3) transition of singly ionized carbon Ciiat 158μm as a proxy for Hiin a set simulated galaxies atz≈ 6, following the work by Heintz et al. We select 11,125 star-forming galaxies from thesimbasimulations, with far-infrared line emissions postprocessed and modeled within the Sigameframework. We find a strong connection between Ciiand Hi, with the relation between this Cii-to-Hirelation (β[CII]) being anticorrelated with the gas-phase metallicity of the simulated galaxies. We further use these simulations to make predictions for the total baryonic matter content of galaxies atz≈ 6, and specifically the Higas mass fraction. We find mean values ofMH I/M= 1.4 andMH I/Mbar,tot= 0.45. These results provide strong evidence for Hibeing the dominant baryonic matter component by mass in galaxies atz≈ 6.

  3. Abstract Understanding the halo–galaxy connection is fundamental in order to improve our knowledge on the nature and properties of dark matter. In this work, we build a model that infers the mass of a halo given the positions, velocities, stellar masses, and radii of the galaxies it hosts. In order to capture information from correlations among galaxy properties and their phase space, we use Graph Neural Networks (GNNs), which are designed to work with irregular and sparse data. We train our models on galaxies from more than 2000 state-of-the-art simulations from the Cosmology and Astrophysics with MachinE Learning Simulations project. Our model, which accounts for cosmological and astrophysical uncertainties, is able to constrain the masses of the halos with a ∼0.2 dex accuracy. Furthermore, a GNN trained on a suite of simulations is able to preserve part of its accuracy when tested on simulations run with a different code that utilizes a distinct subgrid physics model, showing the robustness of our method. The PyTorch Geometric implementation of the GNN is publicly available on GitHub ( https://github.com/PabloVD/HaloGraphNet ).
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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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  7. 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
  8. Abstract We present a high-resolution study of the cold molecular gas as traced by CO(1-0) in the unlensed z ∼ 3.4 submillimeter galaxy SMM J13120+4242, using multiconfiguration observations with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA). The gas reservoir, imaged on 0.″39 (∼3 kpc) scales, is resolved into two components separated by ∼11 kpc with a total extent of 16 ± 3 kpc. Despite the large spatial extent of the reservoir, the observations show a CO(1-0) FWHM linewidth of only 267 ± 64 km s −1 . We derive a revised line luminosity of L CO ( 1 − 0 ) ′ = (10 ± 3) × 10 10 K km s −1 pc 2 and a molecular gas mass of M gas = (13 ± 3)× 10 10 ( α CO /1) M ⊙ . Despite the presence of a velocity gradient (consistent with previous resolved CO(6-5) imaging), the CO(1-0) imaging shows evidence for significant turbulent motions that are preventing the gas from fully settling into a disk. The system likely represents a merger in an advanced stage. Although the dynamical mass is highly uncertain, we use it to place an upper limit on the CO-to-H 2 massmore »conversion factor α CO of 1.4. We revisit the SED fitting, finding that this galaxy lies on the very massive end of the main sequence at z = 3.4. Based on the low gas fraction, short gas depletion time, and evidence for a central AGN, we propose that SMM J13120 is in a rapid transitional phase between a merger-driven starburst and an unobscured quasar. The case of SMM J13120 highlights how mergers may drive important physical changes in galaxies without pushing them off the main sequence.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  9. Abstract We use a generic formalism designed to search for relations in high-dimensional spaces to determine if the total mass of a subhalo can be predicted from other internal properties such as velocity dispersion, radius, or star formation rate. We train neural networks using data from the Cosmology and Astrophysics with MachinE Learning Simulations project and show that the model can predict the total mass of a subhalo with high accuracy: more than 99% of the subhalos have a predicted mass within 0.2 dex of their true value. The networks exhibit surprising extrapolation properties, being able to accurately predict the total mass of any type of subhalo containing any kind of galaxy at any redshift from simulations with different cosmologies, astrophysics models, subgrid physics, volumes, and resolutions, indicating that the network may have found a universal relation. We then use different methods to find equations that approximate the relation found by the networks and derive new analytic expressions that predict the total mass of a subhalo from its radius, velocity dispersion, and maximum circular velocity. We show that in some regimes, the analytic expressions are more accurate than the neural networks. The relation found by the neural network and approximatedmore »by the analytic equation bear similarities to the virial theorem.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  10. Abstract The H i gas content is a key ingredient in galaxy evolution, the study of which has been limited to moderate cosmological distances for individual galaxies due to the weakness of the hyperfine H i 21 cm transition. Here we present a new approach that allows us to infer the H i gas mass M HI of individual galaxies up to z ≈ 6, based on a direct measurement of the [C ii ]-to-H i conversion factor in star-forming galaxies at z ≳ 2 using γ -ray burst afterglows. By compiling recent [C ii ]-158 μ m emission line measurements we quantify the evolution of the H i content in galaxies through cosmic time. We find that M HI starts to exceed the stellar mass M ⋆ at z ≳ 1, and increases as a function of redshift. The H i fraction of the total baryonic mass increases from around 20% at z = 0 to about 60% at z ∼ 6. We further uncover a universal relation between the H i gas fraction M HI / M ⋆ and the gas-phase metallicity, which seems to hold from z ≈ 6 to z = 0. The majority of galaxiesmore »at z > 2 are observed to have H i depletion times, t dep,HI = M HI /SFR, less than ≈2 Gyr, substantially shorter than for z ∼ 0 galaxies. Finally, we use the [C ii ]-to-H i conversion factor to determine the cosmic mass density of H i in galaxies, ρ HI , at three distinct epochs: z ≈ 0, z ≈ 2, and z ∼ 4–6. These measurements are consistent with previous estimates based on 21 cm H i observations in the local universe and with damped Ly α absorbers (DLAs) at z ≳ 2, suggesting an overall decrease by a factor of ≈5 in ρ HI ( z ) from the end of the reionization epoch to the present.« less