Stars, Gas, and Star Formation of Distant Post-starburst Galaxies

Po Feng Wu, Rachel Bezanson, Francesco D’Eugenio, Anna R. Gallazzi, Jenny E. Greene, Michael V. Maseda, Katherine A. Suess, Arjen van der Wel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We present a comprehensive multiwavelength study of five post-starburst galaxies with M * > 1011 M at z ∼ 0.7, examining their stars, gas, and current and past star formation activities. Using optical images from the Subaru Telescope and Hubble Space Telescope, we observe a high incidence of companion galaxies and low surface brightness tidal features, indicating that quenching is closely related to interactions between galaxies. From optical spectra provided by the LEGA-C survey, we model the stellar continuum to derive the star formation histories and show the stellar masses of progenitors ranging from 2 × 109 M to 1011 M , undergoing a burst of star formation several hundred million years prior to observation, with a decay timescale of ∼100 Myr. Our Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array observations detect CO(2-1) emission in four galaxies, with the molecular gas spreading over up to >1″, or ∼10 kpc, with a mass of up to ∼2 × 1010 M . However, star-forming regions are unresolved by either the slit spectra or 3 GHz continuum observed by the Very Large Array. Comparisons between the star formation rates (SFRs) and gas masses, and the sizes of CO emission and star-forming regions suggest a low star-forming efficiency. We show that the SFRs derived from IR and radio luminosities with commonly used calibrations tend to overestimate the true values because of the prodigious amount of radiation from old stars and the contribution from active galactic nuclei (AGNs), as the optical spectra reveal weak AGN-driven outflows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number75
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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