Merger Signatures are Common, but not Universal, in Massive, Recently Quenched Galaxies at z ∼ 0.7

Margaret E. Verrico, David J. Setton, Rachel Bezanson, Jenny E. Greene, Katherine A. Suess, Andy D. Goulding, Justin S. Spilker, Mariska Kriek, Robert Feldmann, Desika Narayanan, Vincenzo Donofrio, Gourav Khullar

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5 Scopus citations


We present visual classifications of merger-induced tidal disturbances in 143 M * ∼ 1011 M post-starburst galaxies at z ∼ 0.7 identified in the SQuIGG L ⃗ E Sample. This sample spectroscopically selects galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey that have stopped their primary epoch of star formation within the past ∼500 Myr. Visual classifications are performed on Hyper Suprime-Cam imaging. We compare to a control sample of mass- and redshift-matched star-forming and quiescent galaxies from the Large Early Galaxy Census and find that post-starburst galaxies are more likely to be classified as disturbed than either category. This corresponds to a factor of 3.6 − 1.3 + 2.9 times the disturbance rate of older quiescent galaxies and 2.1 − .73 + 1.9 times the disturbance rate of star-forming galaxies. Assuming tidal features persist for ≲500 Myr, this suggests merging is coincident with quenching in a significant fraction of these post-starbursts. Galaxies with tidal disturbances are younger on average than undisturbed post-starburst galaxies in our sample, suggesting tidal features from a major merger may have faded over time. This may be exacerbated by the fact that, on average, the undisturbed subset is fainter, rendering low-surface-brightness tidal features harder to identify. However, the presence of 10 young (≲150 Myr since quenching) undisturbed galaxies suggests that major mergers are not the only fast physical mechanism that shut down the primary epoch of star formation in massive galaxies at intermediate redshift.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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