First results from the 3D-HST survey: the striking diversity of massive galaxies at ɀ > 1

van Dokkum, Pieter G.; Brammer, Gabriel; Fumagalli, Mattia; Nelson, Erica; Franx, Marijn; Rix, Hans-Walter; Kriek, Mariska; Skelton, Rosalind E.; Patel, Shannon; Schmidt, Kasper B.; Bezanson, Rachel; Bian, Fuyan; da Cunha, Elisabete; Erb, Dawn K.; Fan, Xiaohui; Förster Schreiber, Natascha; Illingworth, Garth D.; Labbé, Ivo; Lundgren, Britt; Magee, Dan; Marchesini, Danilo; McCarthy, Patrick; Muzzin, Adam; Quadri, Ryan; Steidel, Charles C.; Tal, Tomer; Wake, David; Whitaker, Katherine E. and Williams, Anna (2011). First results from the 3D-HST survey: the striking diversity of massive galaxies at ɀ > 1. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 743(1), article no. L15.



We present first results from the 3D-HST program, a near-IR spectroscopic survey performed with the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) on the HST. We have used 3D-HST spectra to measure redshifts and Hα equivalent widths (EWHα) for a complete, stellar mass limited sample of 34 galaxies at 1 < ɀ < 1.5 with Mstar > 1011 Mʘ in the COSMOS, GOODS, and AEGIS fields. We find that a substantial fraction of massive galaxies at this epoch are forming stars at a high rate: the fraction of galaxies with EWHα > 10 Å is 59%, compared to 10% among Sloan Digital Sky Survey galaxies of similar masses at z = 0.1. Galaxies with weak Hα emission show absorption lines typical of 2–4 Gyr old stellar populations. The structural parameters of the galaxies, derived from the associated WFC3 F140W imaging data, correlate with the presence of Hα; quiescent galaxies are compact with high Sérsic index and high inferred velocity dispersion, whereas star-forming galaxies are typically large two-armed spiral galaxies, with low Sérsic index. Some of these star-forming galaxies might be progenitors of the most massive S0 and Sa galaxies. Our results challenge the idea that galaxies at fixed mass form a homogeneous population with small scatter in their properties. Instead, we find that massive galaxies form a highly diverse population at ɀ > 1, in marked contrast to the local universe.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions