Friday, 19 June 2009

Velocity dispersion at z~2

from van Dokkum, Kriek, & Franx 2009,

This paper presents the first directly-measured velocity dispersion of a compact quiescent galaxy at z~2. A dispersion of 510 (+165, -95) km/s is measured by fitting galaxy templates to an ultra-deep near-IR (Gemini) spectrum; the dispersion uncertainty is calculated through Monte Carlo simulations.

Such a high dispersion is unparalleled in the local universe, as shown in the figure above. Candidate high-sigma objects were already known, but the dispersions in these cases were indirect (inferred from masses and radii) and so it was conceivable that systematic effects could have been at play. Reassuringly, the stellar masses inferred from SED fitting and the velocity dispersion are in decent agreement with each other, so the previous results apparently are not just due to severely overestimated masses.

Friday, 12 June 2009

A new type of stellar explosion

From Perets et al. (arXiv:0906.2003) Caption reads:
"Comparison of the SN 2005E ejecta mass and luminosity with other SNe [SNe Ia, squares;
SNe Ib/c, × marks; SNe II, circles]. The lower panel shows the total ejecta mass inferred for SN 2005E, which is the lowest inferred ejecta mass found for any SN, based on nebular spectra. Its position in the luminosity vs. ejecta-mass phase space is unique, suggesting it is not a member of currently well-known SN families. The middle panel shows the Ni mass inferred for SN 2005E. The small Ni mass inferred for SN 2005E is consistent with its low luminosity, although somewhat lower than might be expected from the extension of the observed Ni mass-luminosity relation observed for other SNe (dashed line and formula). The upper panel shows the Ni ejecta mass fraction MNi/Mtotal inferred for SN 2005E. The sources from which the SN data were collected are listed in the SI, Section 8."

This is a supernova that doesn't match any of the known classes. It was not found in a star forming region, so core collapse seems unlikely. It also ejected significantly less mass than any known SNIa. It has a very high Ca yield.

Monday, 8 June 2009

First direct metallicity at z>1

from Yuan & Kewley,

The authors use MOIRCS on Subaru to obtain a near-IR (rest-frame optical) spectrum of a strongly-lensed z=1.7 galaxy, and detect the [OIII] 4363A line, the first such detection at z>1. This line provides a direct measurement of the oxygen abundance; the above plot shows this measurement (red) compared to z>2 galaxies (from Erb et al.; black points) and the local relation (dashed line). While the z>2 data suggested a steeper slope in the metallicity-mass and metallicity-luminosity relations at high redshifts, with the new data point it actually doesn't look much different from at z=0. Of course, caveats about different techniques (the z>2 metallicities were not determined with the same technique) and redshifts apply.

AGN activity in nearby galaxies

from Goulding & Alexander,

The authors describe a volume-limited survey of all (64 in total) IR-
luminous (L_IR>3e9) galaxies within 15 Mpc with Spitzer-IRS. The
goal is to look for the [NeV] line at 14um, which is considered to be
an unambiguous tracer of AGN activity since the ionization potential
of this line is generally too high to produce in HII regions.

The BPT diagram above shows SDSS galaxies (faint grey points),
galaxies from their sample with no detected [NeV] (black squares),
and those with detected [NeV] (red squares). Dividing lines between
star-forming galaxies, LINERs, and Seyferts are also overplotted.
Although only 7 galaxies strictly meet the "Seyfert" classification
based on their optical emission lines, 17 show [NeV]; the authors
conclude that the BPT diagnostic misses more than half of AGN
activity in IR-luminous galaxies. However, most of the "optical non-
AGNs" classify as LINERs, so it seems a bit much to say they were
totally "missed" by the BPT diagnostic. Also, in a subsequent plot
it's apparent that most of these near-IR AGN are extremely weak -
between 1-5% of the total galaxy luminosity. However, there's
marginal evidence for a correlation between AGN activity and L_IR
(hence star formation) in this sample.

Friday, 5 June 2009

In 0906.0590, Kistler et al investigate "The star formation rate in the reionization era as indicated by gamma-ray bursts". They make a compilation of high redshift long gamma ray bursts, deduce a correction factor as a function of redshift (at intermediate redshifts) between the rate of GRBs and the SFR and calculate the SFR(z), from GRBs. The result is the Lilly-Madua plot shown. The upper yellow points are results from the GRBs. Note that in all four bins there are just a few (1 in the last) GRBs used for the calculation. The grey points are the well known Hopkins & Beacom (2006) compilation, while the other, higher redshift, coloured points are deductions from UV luminosity functions from LBGs (Bouwens et al 2008) and Lyman alpha emitters (Ota et al 2008)

The grey lines with positive slope are the SFRDs necessary to keep the universe ionized according to Madau et al 1999. This seems to indicate that the star formation alone is enough to keep the universe ionized from z~8.