A massive galaxy in its core formation phase three billion years after the Big Bang

E. Nelson, P. van Dokkum, M. Franx, G. Brammer, I. Momcheva, N. F. Schreiber, E. da Cunha, L. Tacconi, R. Bezanson, A. Kirkpatrick, J. Leja, H.-W. Rix, R. Skelton, A. van der Wel, K. Whitaker, S. Wuyts

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Abstract

Most massive galaxies are thought to have formed their dense stellar cores in early cosmic epochs1, 2, 3. Previous studies have found galaxies with high gas velocity dispersions4 or small apparent sizes5, 6, 7, but so far no objects have been identified with both the stellar structure and the gas dynamics of a forming core. Here we report a candidate core in the process of formation 11 billion years ago, at redshift z = 2.3. This galaxy, GOODS-N-774, has a stellar mass of 100 billion solar masses, a half-light radius of 1.0 kiloparsecs and a star formation rate of solar masses per year. The star-forming gas has a velocity dispersion of 317 ± 30 kilometres per second. This is similar to the stellar velocity dispersions of the putative descendants of GOODS-N-774, which are compact quiescent galaxies at z ≈ 2 (refs 8, 9, 10, 11) and giant elliptical galaxies in the nearby Universe. Galaxies such as GOODS-N-774 seem to be rare; however, from the star formation rate and size of this galaxy we infer that many star-forming cores may be heavily obscured, and could be missed in optical and near-infrared surveys.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-397
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume513
Issue number7518
Early online date27 Aug 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sep 2014

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galaxies
star formation rate
stellar structure
stellar cores
compact galaxies
stars
gas dynamics
elliptical galaxies
stellar mass
gases
universe
radii

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Nelson, E., van Dokkum, P., Franx, M., Brammer, G., Momcheva, I., Schreiber, N. F., ... Wuyts, S. (2014). A massive galaxy in its core formation phase three billion years after the Big Bang. Nature, 513(7518), 394-397. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13616

A massive galaxy in its core formation phase three billion years after the Big Bang. / Nelson, E.; van Dokkum, P.; Franx, M.; Brammer, G.; Momcheva, I.; Schreiber, N. F.; da Cunha, E.; Tacconi, L.; Bezanson, R.; Kirkpatrick, A.; Leja, J.; Rix, H.-W.; Skelton, R.; van der Wel, A.; Whitaker, K.; Wuyts, S.

In: Nature, Vol. 513, No. 7518, 18.09.2014, p. 394-397.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Nelson, E, van Dokkum, P, Franx, M, Brammer, G, Momcheva, I, Schreiber, NF, da Cunha, E, Tacconi, L, Bezanson, R, Kirkpatrick, A, Leja, J, Rix, H-W, Skelton, R, van der Wel, A, Whitaker, K & Wuyts, S 2014, 'A massive galaxy in its core formation phase three billion years after the Big Bang', Nature, vol. 513, no. 7518, pp. 394-397. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13616
Nelson E, van Dokkum P, Franx M, Brammer G, Momcheva I, Schreiber NF et al. A massive galaxy in its core formation phase three billion years after the Big Bang. Nature. 2014 Sep 18;513(7518):394-397. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13616
Nelson, E. ; van Dokkum, P. ; Franx, M. ; Brammer, G. ; Momcheva, I. ; Schreiber, N. F. ; da Cunha, E. ; Tacconi, L. ; Bezanson, R. ; Kirkpatrick, A. ; Leja, J. ; Rix, H.-W. ; Skelton, R. ; van der Wel, A. ; Whitaker, K. ; Wuyts, S. / A massive galaxy in its core formation phase three billion years after the Big Bang. In: Nature. 2014 ; Vol. 513, No. 7518. pp. 394-397.
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abstract = "Most massive galaxies are thought to have formed their dense stellar cores in early cosmic epochs1, 2, 3. Previous studies have found galaxies with high gas velocity dispersions4 or small apparent sizes5, 6, 7, but so far no objects have been identified with both the stellar structure and the gas dynamics of a forming core. Here we report a candidate core in the process of formation 11 billion years ago, at redshift z = 2.3. This galaxy, GOODS-N-774, has a stellar mass of 100 billion solar masses, a half-light radius of 1.0 kiloparsecs and a star formation rate of solar masses per year. The star-forming gas has a velocity dispersion of 317 ± 30 kilometres per second. This is similar to the stellar velocity dispersions of the putative descendants of GOODS-N-774, which are compact quiescent galaxies at z ≈ 2 (refs 8, 9, 10, 11) and giant elliptical galaxies in the nearby Universe. Galaxies such as GOODS-N-774 seem to be rare; however, from the star formation rate and size of this galaxy we infer that many star-forming cores may be heavily obscured, and could be missed in optical and near-infrared surveys.",
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AU - Rix, H.-W.

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