ALMA Measures Molecular Gas Reservoirs Comparable to Field Galaxies in a Low-mass Galaxy Cluster at z = 1.3

Christina C. Williams, Stacey Alberts, Justin S. Spilker, Allison G. Noble, Mauro Stefanon, Christopher N.A. Willmer, Rachel Bezanson, Desika Narayanan, Katherine E. Whitaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We report the serendipitous discovery of an overdensity of CO emitters in an X-ray-identified cluster (Log10 M halo/M ⊙ ∼13.6 at z = 1.3188) using ALMA. We present spectroscopic confirmation of six new cluster members exhibiting CO(2-1) emission, adding to two existing optical/IR spectroscopic members undetected in CO. This is the lowest-mass cluster to date at z > 1 with molecular gas measurements, bridging the observational gap between galaxies in the more extreme, well-studied clusters (Log10 M halo/M ⊙ 3 14) and those in group or field environments at cosmic noon. The CO sources are concentrated on the sky (within ∼1 arcmin diameter) and phase space analysis indicates the gas resides in galaxies already within the cluster environment. We find that CO sources sit in similar phase space as CO-rich galaxies in more massive clusters at similar redshifts (have similar accretion histories) while maintaining field-like molecular gas reservoirs, compared to scaling relations. This work presents the deepest CO survey to date in a galaxy cluster at z > 1, uncovering gas reservoirs down to MH2>1.6×1010 M ⊙ (5σ at 50% primary beam). Our deep limits rule out the presence of gas content in excess of the field scaling relations; however, combined with literature CO detections, cluster gas fractions in general appear systematically high, on the upper envelope or above the field. This study is the first demonstration that low-mass clusters at z ∼1-2 can host overdensities of CO emitters with surviving gas reservoirs, in line with the prediction that quenching is delayed after first infall while galaxies consume the gas bound to the disk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number35
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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