The evolution of interstellar medium mass probed by dust emission: Alma observations at z = 0.3-2

N. Scoville, H. Aussel, K. Sheth, K. S. Scott, D. Sanders, R. Ivison, A. Pope, P. Capak, P. Vanden Bout, S. Manohar, J. Kartaltepe, B. Robertson, S. Lilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

252 Scopus citations


The use of submillimeter dust continuum emission to probe the mass of interstellar dust and gas in galaxies is empirically calibrated using samples of local star-forming galaxies, Planck observations of the Milky Way, and high-redshift submillimeter galaxies. All of these objects suggest a similar calibration, strongly supporting the view that the Rayleigh-Jeans tail of the dust emission can be used as an accurate and very fast probe of the interstellar medium (ISM) in galaxies. We present ALMA Cycle 0 observations of the Band 7 (350 GHz) dust emission in 107 galaxies from z = 0.2 to 2.5. Three samples of galaxies with a total of 101 galaxies were stellar-mass-selected from COSMOS to have M * ≃ 1011 M: 37 at z 0.4, 33 at z 0.9, and 31 at z = 2. A fourth sample with six infrared-luminous galaxies at z = 2 was observed for comparison with the purely mass-selected samples. From the fluxes detected in the stacked images for each sample, we find that the ISM content has decreased by a factor 6 from 1 to 2 × 1010 M at both z = 2 and 0.9 down to 2 × 109 M at z = 0.4. The infrared-luminous sample at z = 2 shows a further 4 times increase in M ISM compared with the equivalent non-infrared-bright sample at the same redshift. The gas mass fractions are 2% ± 0.5%, 12% ± 3%, 14% ± 2%, and 53% ± 3% for the four subsamples (z = 0.4, 0.9, and 2 and infrared-bright galaxies).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number84
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 10 2014


  • dust, extinction
  • evolution
  • galaxies: ISM
  • galaxies: starburst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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