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Fast evolving size of early-type galaxies at z \textgreater 2 and the role of dissipationless (dry) merging

Abstract : We present the analysis of a large sample of early-type galaxies (ETGs) at 0 \textless z \textless 3 aimed at tracing the cosmic evolution of their size and compare it with a model of pure dissipationless (dry) merging in the Lambda cold dark matter (Lambda CDM) framework. The effective radius R-e depends on stellar mass M as R-e(M) alpha M-alpha with alpha similar to 0.5 at all redshifts. The redshift evolution of the mass- or SDSS-normalized size can be reproduced as alpha(1 + z)(beta) with beta similar to -1, with the most massive ETGs possibly showing the fastest evolutionary rate (beta similar to -1.4). This size evolution slows down significantly to beta similar to -0.6 if the ETGs at z \textgreater 2 are removed from the sample, suggesting an accelerated increase of the typical sizes at z \textgreater 2, especially for the ETGs with the largest masses. A pure dry merging Lambda CDM model is marginally consistent with the average size evolution at 0 \textless z \textless 1.7, but predicts descendants too compact for z \textgreater 2 progenitor ETGs. This opens the crucial question on what physical mechanism can explain the accelerated evolution at z \textgreater 2, or whether an unclear observational bias is partly responsible for that.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01434432
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Alessandro Cimatti, C. Nipoti, P. Cassata. Fast evolving size of early-type galaxies at z \textgreater 2 and the role of dissipationless (dry) merging. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2012, 422 (1), pp.L62--L66. ⟨10.1111/j.1745-3933.2012.01237.x⟩. ⟨hal-01434432⟩

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