Morphological evolution of cluster red sequence galaxies in the past 9 Gyr

Roberto De Propris, Malcolm Bremer, Steven Phillipps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
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Galaxies arrive on the red sequences of clusters at high redshift ($z>1$) once their star formation is quenched and evolve passively thereafter. However, we have previously found that cluster red sequence galaxies (CRSGs) undergo significant morphological evolution subsequent to the cessation of star formation, at some point in the past 9-10~Gyr. Through a detailed study of a large sample of cluster red sequence galaxies spanning $0.2<z<1.4$ we elucidate the details of this evolution. Below $z \sim 0.5-0.6$ (in the last 5-6 Gyr) there is little or no morphological evolution in the population as a whole, unlike in the previous 4-5 Gyrs. Over this earlier time (i) disk-like systems with S{\'e}rsic $n < 2$ progressively disappear, as (ii) the range of their axial ratios similarly decreases, removing the most elongated systems (those consistent with thin disks seen at an appreciable inclination angle), and (iii) radial colour gradients (bluer outwards) decrease in an absolute sense from significant age-related gradients to a residual level consistent with the metallicity-induced gradients seen in low redshift cluster members. The distribution of their effective radii shows some evidence of evolution, consistent with growth of {\it at most} a factor $<1.5$ between $z\sim 1.4$ and $z \sim 0.5$, significantly less than for comparable field galaxies, while the distribution of their central ($<1$kpc) bulge surface densities shows no evolution at least at $z<1$. A simple model involving the fading and thickening of a disk component after comparatively recent quenching (after $z\sim 1.5$) around an otherwise passively evolving older spheroid component is consistent with all of these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4517-4530
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date24 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • galaxies: formation and evolution
  • galaxies: interactions


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