What turns galaxies off? the different morphologies of star-forming and quiescent galaxies since z ∼ 2 from CANDELS

Eric F. Bell, Arjen Van Der Wel, Casey Papovich, Dale Kocevski, Jennifer Lotz, Daniel H. McIntosh, Jeyhan Kartaltepe, S. M. Faber, Harry Ferguson, Anton Koekemoer, Norman Grogin, Stijn Wuyts, Edmond Cheung, Christopher J. Conselice, Avishai Dekel, James S. Dunlop, Mauro Giavalisco, Jessica Herrington, David C. Koo, Elizabeth J. McGrathDuilia De Mello, Hans Walter Rix, Aday R. Robaina, Christina C. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

252 Scopus citations


We use HST/WFC3 imaging from the CANDELS Multi-Cycle Treasury Survey, in conjunction with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, to explore the evolution of galactic structure for galaxies with stellar masses >3 × 10 10 M from z = 2.2 to the present epoch, a time span of 10Gyr. We explore the relationship between rest-frame optical color, stellar mass, star formation activity, and galaxy structure. We confirm the dramatic increase from z = 2.2 to the present day in the number density of non-star-forming galaxies above 3 × 1010 M reported by others. We further find that the vast majority of these quiescent systems have concentrated light profiles, as parameterized by the Sérsic index, and the population of concentrated galaxies grows similarly rapidly. We examine the joint distribution of star formation activity, Sérsic index, stellar mass, inferred velocity dispersion, and stellar surface density. Quiescence correlates poorly with stellar mass at all z < 2.2. Quiescence correlates well with Sérsic index at all redshifts. Quiescence correlates well with "velocity dispersion" and stellar surface density at z > 1.3, and somewhat less well at lower redshifts. Yet, there is significant scatter between quiescence and galaxy structure: while the vast majority of quiescent galaxies have prominent bulges, many of them have significant disks, and a number of bulge-dominated galaxies have significant star formation. Noting the rarity of quiescent galaxies without prominent bulges, we argue that a prominent bulge (and perhaps, by association, a supermassive black hole) is an important condition for quenching star formation on galactic scales over the last 10Gyr, in qualitative agreement with the active galactic nucleus feedback paradigm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 10 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: general
  • galaxies: structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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