The evolving luminosity function of red galaxies

Michael J.I. Brown, D. E.Y. Arjun, Buell T. Jannuzi, Kate Brand, Andrew J. Benson, Mark Brodwin, Darren J. Croton, Peter R. Eisenharot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

269 Scopus citations


We trace the assembly history of red galaxies since z = 1 by measuring their evolving space density with the B-band luminosity function. Our sample of 39,599 red galaxies, selected from 6.96 deg2 of imaging from the NOAO Deep Wide-Field Survey and the Spitzer IRAC Shallow Survey, is an order of magnitude larger, in size and volume, than comparable samples in the literature. We measure a higher space density of z ∼ 0.9 red galaxies than some of the recent literature, in part because we account for the faint yet significant galaxy flux that falls outside of our photometric aperture. The B-band luminosity density of red galaxies, which effectively measures the evolution of ∼L* galaxies, increases by only 36% ± 13% from z = 0 to z = 1. If red galaxy stellar populations have faded by ≃ 1.24 B-band magnitudes since z = 1, the stellar mass contained within the red galaxy population has roughly doubled over the past 8 Gyr. This is consistent with star-forming galaxies being transformed into ≲L* red galaxies after a decline in their star formation rates. In contrast, the evolution of ≃4L* red galaxies differs only slightly from a model with negligible z < 1 star formation and no galaxy mergers. If this model approximates the luminosity evolution of red galaxy stellar populations, then ≃80% of the stellar mass contained within today's 4L* red galaxies was already in place at z = 0.7. While red galaxy mergers have been observed, such mergers do not produce rapid growth of 4L* red galaxy stellar masses between z = 1 and the present day.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)858-877
Number of pages20
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Jan 10 2007


  • Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: luminosity function, mass function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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