The evolution of the distribution of star formation rates in galaxies

Lennox L. Cowie, Esther M. Hu, Antoinette Songaila, Eiichi Egami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


A large, deep, and nearly complete B < 24.5 redshift sample is used to measure the change with redshift in the distribution function of the stellar mass production rate in individual galaxies. The evolution of the star formation rate distribution with redshift is interpreted in terms of the history of spiral galaxy formation, with the disk component modeled as a single evolving entity, and the characteristic timescales, luminosities, and epochs varying according to galaxy type. The more massive forming galaxies seen at z = 1-3 are identified as earlier type spirals, whose star formation rates are initially high and then decline rapidly at z < 1, while for later type spirals and smaller mass irregulars the mass formation rates at z < 1 are lower, and the formation process persists to redshifts much closer to the present epoch. We find that these models can be consistent with the data and fit well into a broad picture of other recent results if q0 = 0.02 and many of the disks begin their growth at z ≪ 3, but that they predict too many bright star formers at high z in flat universes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L9-L13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART II
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmology: observations
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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