Petchara Pattarakijwanich, Michael A. Strauss, Shirley Ho, Nicholas P. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Post-starburst galaxies are in the transitional stage between blue, star-forming galaxies and red, quiescent galaxies and therefore hold important clues for our understanding of galaxy evolution. In this paper, we systematically searched for and identified a large sample of post-starburst galaxies from the spectroscopic data set of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data Release 9. In total, we found more than 6000 objects with redshifts between z ∼ 0.05 and z ∼ 1.3, making this the largest sample of post-starburst galaxies in the literature. We calculated the luminosity function of the post-starburst galaxies using two uniformly selected subsamples: the SDSS main galaxy sample and the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey CMASS sample. The luminosity functions are reasonably fit by half-Gaussian functions. The peak magnitudes shift as a function of redshift from M ∼ -23.5 at z ∼ 0.8 to M ∼ -20.3 at z ∼ 0.1. This is consistent with the downsizing trend, whereby more massive galaxies form earlier than low-mass galaxies. We compared the mass of the post-starburst stellar population found in our sample to the decline of the global star formation rate and found that only a small amount (∼1%) of all star formation quenching in the redshift range z = 0.2-0.7 results in post-starburst galaxies in the luminosity range our sample is sensitive to. Therefore, luminous post-starburst galaxies are not the place where most of the decline in the star formation rate of the universe is happening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 10 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • galaxies: distances and redshifts
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • galaxies: luminosity function, mass function
  • galaxies: starburst


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