The deep Groth Strip survey. IX. Evolution of the fundamental plane of field galaxies

Karl Gebhardt, S. M. Faber, David C. Koo, Myungshin Im, Luc Simard, Garth D. Illingworth, Andrew C. Phillips, Vicki L. Sarajedini, Nicole P. Vogt, Benjamin Weiner, Christopher N.A. Willmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Fundamental plane studies provide an excellent means of understanding the evolutionary history of early-type galaxies. Using the Low Resolution Imaging Spectrograph on the Keck Telescope, we obtained internal stellar kinematic information for 36 field galaxies in the Groth Strip, 21 early-type and 15 disk galaxies. Their redshifts range from 0.3 to 1.0, with a median redshift of 0.8. The slope of the relation shows no difference compared with the local slope. However, there is significant evolution in the zero-point offset; an offset due to evolution in magnitude requires a 2.4 mag luminosity brightening at z = 1. We see little differences of the off-set with bulge fraction, which is a good surrogate for galaxy type. Correcting for the luminosity evolution reduces the orthogonal scatter in the fundamental plane to 8%, consistent with the local scatter. This scatter is measured for our sample and does not include results from other studies, which may have different selection effects. The difference in the degree of evolution between our field sample and published cluster galaxies suggests a more recent formation epoch, around z = 1.5 for field galaxies compared to z > 2.0 for cluster galaxies. The magnitude difference implies that the field early-type galaxies are about 2 Gyr younger than the cluster ellipticals using standard single-burst models. However, the same models imply a significant change in the rest-frame U-B color from then to the present, which is not seen in our sample. Continuous low-level star formation, however, would serve to explain the constant colors over this large magnitude change. A consistent model has 7% of the stellar mass created after the initial burst, using an exponentially decaying star formation rate with an e-folding time of 5 Gvr.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-262
Number of pages24
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Nov 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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