The properties of (sub)millimetre-selected galaxies as revealed by CANDELS HST WFC3/IR imaging in GOODS-South

T. A. Targett, J. S. Dunlop, M. Cirasuolo, R. J. McLure, Victoria Bruce, A. Fontana, A. Galametz, D. Paris, R. Davé, A. Dekel, S. M. Faber, H. C. Ferguson, N. A. Grogin, J. S. Kartaltepe, D. D. Kocevski, A. M. Koekemoer, P. Kurczynski, K. Lai, J. Lotz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We have exploited the HST CANDELS WFC3/IR imaging to study the properties of (sub-)mm galaxies in GOODS-South. After using the deep radio and Spitzer imaging to identify galaxy counterparts for the (sub-)mm sources, we have used the new CANDELS data in two ways. First, we have derived improved photometric redshifts and stellar masses, confirming that the (sub-)mm galaxies are massive (=2.2x10^11 M_solar) galaxies at z=1-3. Second, we have exploited the depth and resolution of the WFC3/IR imaging to determine the sizes and morphologies of the galaxies at rest-frame optical wavelengths, fitting two-dimensional axi-symmetric Sersic models. Crucially, the WFC3/IR H-band imaging enables modelling of the mass-dominant galaxy, rather than the blue high-surface brightness features which often dominate optical (rest-frame UV) images of (sub-)mm galaxies, and can confuse visual morphological classification. As a result of this analysis we find that >95% of the rest-frame optical light in almost all of the (sub-)mm galaxies is well-described by either a single exponential disk, or a multiple-component system in which the dominant constituent is disk-like. We demonstrate that this conclusion is consistent with the results of high-quality ground-based K-band imaging, and explain why. The massive disk galaxies which host luminous (sub-)mm emission are reasonably extended (r_e=4 kpc), consistent with the sizes of other massive star-forming disks at z~2. In many cases we find evidence of blue clumps within the sources, with the mass-dominant disk becoming more significant at longer wavelengths. Finally, only a minority of the sources show evidence for a major galaxy-galaxy interaction. Taken together, these results support the view that most (sub-)mm galaxies at z~2 are simply the most extreme examples of normal star-forming galaxies at that era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2012-2042
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012


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