The VIMOS Public Extragalactic Redshift Survey (VIPERS): A quiescent formation of massive red-sequence galaxies over the past 9 Gyr

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We explore the evolution of the colour-magnitude relation (CMR) and luminosity function (LF) at 0.4 <z <1.3 from the VIMOS Public Extragalactic Redshift Survey (VIPERS) using similar to 45 000 galaxies with precise spectroscopic redshifts down to i(AB)' <22.5 over similar to 10.32 deg(2) in two fields. From z = 0.5 to z = 1.3 the LF and CMR are well defined for different galaxy populations and M-B* evolves by similar to 1.04(1.09) +/- 0.06(0.10) mag for the total (red) galaxy sample. We compare different criteria for selecting early-type galaxies: (1) a fixed cut in rest-frame (U - V) colours, (2) an evolving cut in (U - V) colours, (3) a rest-frame (NUV - r') - (r' - K) colour selection, and (4) a spectral-energy-distribution classification. The completeness and contamination varies for the different methods and with redshift, but regardless of the method we measure a consistent evolution of the red-sequence (RS). Between 0.4 <z <1.3 we find a moderate evolution of the RS intercept of Delta(U - V) = 0.28 +/- 0.14 mag, favouring exponentially declining star formation (SF) histories with SF truncation at 1.7 10(11) M-circle dot) and expeditious RS formation over a short period of similar to 1.5 Gyr starting before z = 1. This is supported by the detection of ongoing SF in early-type galaxies at 0.9 <z <1.0, in contrast with the quiescent red stellar populations of early-type galaxies at 0.5 <z <0.6. There is an increase in the observed CMR scatter with redshift, which is two times larger than observed in galaxy clusters and at variance with theoretical model predictions. We discuss possible physical mechanisms that support the observed evolution of the red galaxy population. Our findings point out that massive galaxies have experienced a sharp SF quenching at z similar to 1 with only limited additional merging. In contrast, less-massive galaxies experience a mix of SF truncation and minor mergers which build-up the low-and intermediate-mass end of the CMR.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA92
Number of pages26
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • surveys
  • cosmology: observations
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: photometry
  • galaxies: luminosity function, mass function
  • galaxies: statistics


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