Minor versus major mergers: The stellar mass growth of massive galaxies from z = 3 using number density selection techniques

Jamie R. Ownsworth, Christopher J. Conselice, Alice Mortlock, William G. Hartley, Omar Almaini, Ken Duncan, Carl J. Mundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We present a study on the stellar mass growth of the progenitors of local massive galaxies with a variety of number density selections with n ≤ 1 × 10-4 Mpc-3 (corresponding to M* = 1011.24M at z = 0.3) in the redshift range 0.3 < z < 3.0. We select the progenitors of massive galaxies using a constant number density selection, and one which is adjusted to account for major mergers. We find that the progenitors of massive galaxies grow by a factor of 4 in total stellar mass over this redshift range. On average the stellar mass added via the processes of star formation, major and minor mergers account for 24 ± 8, 17 ± 15 and 34 ± 14 per cent, respectively, of the total galaxy stellar mass at z = 0.3. Therefore 51 ± 20 per cent of the total stellar mass in massive galaxies at z = 0.3 is created externally to their z = 3 progenitors. We explore the implication of these results on the cold gas accretion rate and size evolution of the progenitors of most massive galaxies over the same redshift range. We find an average gas accretion rate of ~66 ± 32M yr-1 over the redshift range of 1.5 < z < 3.0. We find that the size evolution of a galaxy sample selected this way is on average lower than the findings of other investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2198-2213
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume445
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Galaxies: interactions
  • Galaxies: star formation
  • Galaxies: structure
  • Infrared: galaxies

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