The star formation histories of z ∼ 2 dust-obscured galaxies and submillimeter-selected galaxies

R. S. Bussmann, Arjun Dey, L. Armus, M. J.I. Brown, V. Desai, A. H. Gonzalez, B. T. Jannuzi, J. Melbourne, B. T. Soifer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The Spitzer Space Telescope has identified a population of ultraluminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs) at z ∼ 2 that may play an important role in the evolution of massive galaxies. We measure the stellar masses (M *) of two populations of Spitzer-selected ULIRGs that have extremely red R - [24] colors (dust-obscured galaxies, or DOGs) and compare our results with submillimeter-selected galaxies (SMGs). One set of 39 DOGs has a local maximum in their mid-infrared (mid-IR) spectral energy distribution (SED) at rest frame 1.6μm associated with stellar emission ("bump DOGs"), while the other set of 51 DOGs have power-law mid-IR SEDs that are typical of obscured active galactic nuclei ("power-law DOGs"). We measure M * by applying Charlot & Bruzual stellar population synthesis models to broadband photometry in the rest-frame ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared of each of these populations. Assuming a simple stellar population and a Chabrier initial mass function, we find that power-law DOGs and bump DOGs are on average a factor of 2 and 1.5 more massive than SMGs, respectively (median and inter-quartile M * values for SMGs, bump DOGs, and power-law DOGs are log(M */M) = 10.42 +0.42 - 0.36, 10.62+0.36 - 0.32, and 10.71+0.40 - 0.34, respectively). More realistic star formation histories drawn from two competing theories for the nature of ULIRGs at z 2 (major merger versus smooth accretion) can increase these mass estimates by up to 0.5dex. A comparison of our stellar masses with the instantaneous star formation rate (SFR) in these z 2 ULIRGs provides a preliminary indication supporting high SFRs for a given M *, a situation that arises more naturally in major mergers than in smooth accretion-powered systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number150
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 10 2012


  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • galaxies: stellar content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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