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On the nature of the extragalactic number counts in the K-band

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Barro, G. and Gallego Maestro, Jesús and Pérez González, Pablo Guillermo and Eliche Moral, María del Carmen and Balcells, M. and Villar, V. and Cardiel López, Nicolás and Cristobal Hornillos, D. and Gil de Paz, Armando and Guzmán, R. and Pello, R. and Prieto, M. and Zamorano Calvo, Jaime (2009) On the nature of the extragalactic number counts in the K-band. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 494 (1). pp. 63-79. ISSN 0004-6361

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:200810633


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Abstract

Context. The galaxy number counts has been traditionally used to test models of galaxy evolution. However, the origin of significant differences in the shape of number counts at different wavelengths is still unclear. By relating the most remarkable features in the number counts with the underlying galaxy population it is possible to introduce further constraints on galaxy evolution. Aims. We aim to investigate the causes of the different shape of the K-band number counts when compared to other bands, analyzing in detail the presence of a change in the slope around K similar to 17.5. Methods. We present a near-infrared imaging survey, conducted at the 3.5 m telescope of the Calar Alto Spanish-German Astronomical Center (CAHA), covering two separated fields centered on the HFDN and the Groth field, with a total combined area of similar to 0.27 deg(2) to a depth of K similar to 19 (3 sigma, Vega). By combining our data with public deep K-band images in the CDFS (GOODS/ISAAC) and high quality imaging in multiple bands, we extract K-selected catalogs characterized with highly reliable photometric redshift estimates. We derive redshift binned number counts, comparing the results in our three fields to sample the effects of cosmic variance. We derive luminosity functions from the observed K-band in the redshift range [0.25-1.25], that are combined with data from the references in multiple bands and redshifts, to build up the K-band number count distribution. Results. The overall shape of the number counts can be grouped into three regimes: the classic Euclidean slope regime (d log N/dm similar to 0.6) at bright magnitudes; a transition regime at intermediate magnitudes, dominated by M* galaxies at the redshift that maximizes the product phi*dVc/d Omega; and an alpha dominated regime at faint magnitudes, where the slope asymptotically approaches -0.4(alpha + 1) controlled by post-M* galaxies. The slope of the K-band number counts presents an averaged decrement of similar to 50% in the range 15.5 < K < 18.5 (d log N/dm similar to 0.6-0.30). The rate of change in the slope is highly sensitive to cosmic variance effects. The decreasing trend is the consequence of a prominent decrease of the characteristic density phi(K,obs)* (similar to 60% from z = 0.5 to z = 1.5) and an almost flat evolution of M(K,obs)* (1 sigma compatible with M(K,obs)* = -22.89 +/- 0.25 in the same redshift range).


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© ESO 2009. We thank the referee M. Bershady for his useful and constructive comments. We acknowledge support from the Spanish Programa Nacional de Astronomía y Astrofísica under grant AYA 2006-02358. Partially funded by the Spanish MEC under the Consolider-Ingenio 2010 Program grant CSD2006-00070: First Science with the GTC (http://www.iac.es/consolider-ingenio-gtc/). Based on observations collected at the Centro Astronómico Hispano Alemán (CAHA) at Calar Alto, operated jointly by the Max-Planck Institut fur Astronomie and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC). This article is based on observations made with the WHT operated on the island of La Palma by the Instituto Astrofísico de Canarias in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos. This work is based in part on observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech under NASA contract 1407. GALEX is a NASA Small Explorer launched in 2003 April. We gratefully acknowledge NASA's support for construction, operation, and scientific analysis of the GALEX mission. Based in part on data collected at Subaru Telescope and obtained from the SMOKA, which is operated by the Astronomy Data Center, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. This publication makes use of data products from the Two Micron All Sky Survey, which is a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation. Based on observations obtained with MegaPrime/MegaCam, a joint project of CFHT and CEA/DAPNIA, at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) which is operated by the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada, the Institut National des Science de l'Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) of France, and the University of Hawaii.

Uncontrolled Keywords:Galaxy luminosity function; Deep-field-south; Spectral energy-distributions; Active galactic nuclei; Early data release; Goods-North field; Yale-Chile musyc; 1st epoch data; Redshift survey; Multi wavelength survey
Subjects:Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
Sciences > Physics > Astronomy
Sciences > Physics > Atmospheric physics
ID Code:28096
Deposited On:02 Feb 2015 09:23
Last Modified:10 Dec 2018 15:05

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