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The redshift and mass dependence on the formation of the Hubble sequence at z>1 from CANDELS/UDS

The redshift and mass dependence on the formation of the Hubble sequence at z>1 from CANDELS/UDS

Publication date: 25 May 2013

Authors: Mortlock, A., et al.

Journal: To appear in MNRAS
Year: 2013

In this paper we present a detailed study of the structures and morphologies of a sample of 1188 massive galaxies with Mstar>10^10Msun between redshifts z=1-3 within the Ultra Deep Survey (UDS) region of the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS) field. Using this sample we determine how galaxy structure and morphology evolve with time. We visually classify our sample into disks, ellipticals and peculiar systems and correct for redshift effects on our classifications through simulations. We find evolution in the fractions of galaxies at a given visual classification as a function of redshift. The peculiar population is dominant at z>2 with a substantial spheroid population, and a negligible disk population. We compute the transition redshift, ztrans, where the combined fraction of spheroids and disks is equal to that of peculiar galaxies, as ztrans=1.86+/-0.62 for galaxies in our stellar mass range. We find that this changes as a function of stellar mass, with Hubble-type systems becoming dominant at higher redshifts for higher mass galaxies (ztrans=2.22+/-0.82), than for the lower mass galaxies (ztrans=1.73+/-0.57). Higher mass galaxies become morphologically settled before their lower mass counterparts, a form of morphological downsizing. We furthermore compare our visual classifications with Sersic index, the concentration, asymmetry and clumpiness (CAS) parameters, star formation rate and rest frame U-B colour. We find links between the colour of a galaxy, its star formation rate and how extended or peculiar it appears. Finally, we discuss the negligible z>2 disk fraction based on visual morphologies and speculate that this is an effect of forming disks appearing peculiar through processes such as violent disk instabilities or mergers. We conclude that to properly define high redshift morphology a new and more exact classification scheme is needed.

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