Spitzer observations of massive, red galaxies at high redshift

C. Papovich, L. A. Moustakas, M. Dickinson, E. Le Floc'h, G. H. Rieke, E. Daddi, D. M. Alexander, F. Bauer, W. N. Brandt, T. Dahlen, E. Egami, P. Eisenhardt, D. Elbaz, H. C. Ferguson, M. Giavalisco, R. A. Lucas, B. Mobasher, P. G. Pérez-González, A. Stutz, M. J. RiekeH. Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


We study massive galaxies at z ∼ 1-3.5 using HST optical imaging, ground-based near-IR imaging, and Spitzer observations at 3-24 μm. From Ks-selected galaxies in the ≃130 arcmin2 GOODS-S field, we identify 153 distant red galaxies (DRGs) with (J - Ks) Vega ≥ 2.3. This sample is approximately complete in stellar mass for passively evolving galaxies above 1011 M and z ≤ 3. Roughly half of the DRGs are objects whose optical and near-IR rest-frame light is dominated by evolved stars combined with ongoing star formation (at zmed ∼ 2.5), and the others are galaxies whose light is dominated by heavily reddened (A1600 ≳ 4-6 mag) starbursts (at zmed ∼ 1.7). Very few DRGs (≲ 10%) have no indication of current star formation. DRGs at z ∼ 1.5-3 with stellar masses ≥ 1011 M have specific star formation rates (SFRs per unit mass) including the reradiated far-IR emission that range from 0.2 to 10 Gyr-1. Based on the X-ray luminosities and rest-frame near-IR colors, roughly one-quarter of the DRGs contain AGNs, implying that the growth of supermassive black holes coincides with the formation of massive galaxies. At 1.5 ≤ z ≤ 3, the DRGs with M ≥ 1011 M have an integrated specific SFR comparable to the global value of all galaxies. In contrast, galaxies at z ∼ 0.3-0.75 with M ≥ 1011 M have an integrated specific SFR less than the global value and more than an order of magnitude lower than that for massive DRGs. At z ≲ 1, lower mass galaxies dominate the overall cosmic mass assembly. This suggests that the bulk of star formation in massive galaxies occurs at early cosmic epochs and is largely complete by z ∼ 1.5. Further mass assembly in these galaxies takes place with low specific SFRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-113
Number of pages22
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Mar 20 2006


  • Cosmology: observations
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Galaxies: stellar content
  • Infrared: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Spitzer observations of massive, red galaxies at high redshift'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this