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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof David Alexander

Chen, C.-C., Smail, I., Swinbank, A. M., Simpson, J. M., Ma, C.-J., Alexander, D. M., Biggs, A. D., Brandt, W. N., Chapman, S. C., Coppin, K. E. K., Danielson, A. L. R., Dannerbauer, H., Edge, A. C., Greve, T. R., Ivison, R. J., Karim, A., Menten, K. M., Schinnerer, E., Walter, F., Wardlow, J. L., Weiss, A. & van der Werf, P. P. (2015). An ALMA Survey of Submillimeter Galaxies in the Extended Chandra Deep Field South: Near-infrared Morphologies and Stellar Sizes. The Astrophysical Journal 799(2): 194.

Author(s) from Durham


We analyze Hubble Space Telescope WFC3/H 160-band observations of a sample of 48 Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array detected submillimeter galaxies (SMGs) in the Extended Chandra Deep Field South field, to study their stellar morphologies and sizes. We detect 79% ± 17% of the SMGs in the H 160-band imaging with a median sensitivity of 27.8 mag, and most (80%) of the nondetections are SMGs with 870 μm fluxes of S 870 < 3 mJy. With a surface brightness limit of μ H ~ 26 mag arcsec–2, we find that 82% ± 9% of the H 160-band-detected SMGs at z = 1-3 appear to have disturbed morphologies, meaning they are visually classified as either irregulars or interacting systems, or both. By determining a Sérsic fit to the H 160 surface brightness profiles, we derive a median Sérsic index of n = 1.2 ± 0.3 and a median half-light radius of re = 4.4$^{+1.1}_{-0.5}$ kpc for our SMGs at z = 1-3. We also find significant displacements between the positions of the H 160 component and 870 μm emission in these systems, suggesting that the dusty starburst regions and less-obscured stellar distribution are not colocated. We find significant differences in the sizes and the Sérsic index between our z = 2-3 SMGs and z ~ 2 quiescent galaxies, suggesting that a major transformation of the stellar light profile is needed in the quenching processes if SMGs are progenitors of the red-and-dead z ~ 2 galaxies. Given the short-lived nature of SMGs, we postulate that the majority of the z = 2-3 SMGs with S 870 gsim 2 mJy are early/mid-stage major mergers.