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HST Morphologies of z ~ 2 Dust-Obscured Galaxies II: Bump Sources

By R. S. Bussmann, Arjun Dey, J. Lotz, L. Armus, M. J. I. Brown, V. Desai, P. Eisenhardt, J. Higdon, S. Higdon, B. T. Jannuzi, E. Le Floc'h, J. Melbourne, B. T. Soifer and D. Weedman


We present Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging of 22 ultra-luminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs) at z~2 with extremely red R-[24] colors (called dust-obscured galaxies, or DOGs) which have a local maximum in their spectral energy distribution (SED) at rest-frame 1.6um associated with stellar emission. These sources, which we call "bump DOGs", have star-formation rates of 400-4000 Msun/yr and have redshifts derived from mid-IR spectra which show strong polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon emission --- a sign of vigorous on-going star-formation. Using a uniform morphological analysis, we look for quantifiable differences between bump DOGs, power-law DOGs (Spitzer-selected ULIRGs with mid-IR SEDs dominated by a power-law and spectral features that are more typical of obscured active galactic nuclei than starbursts), sub-millimeter selected galaxies (SMGs), and other less-reddened ULIRGs from the Spitzer extragalactic First Look Survey (XFLS). Bump DOGs are larger than power-law DOGs (median Petrosian radius of 8.4 +/- 2.7 kpc vs. 5.5 +/- 2.3 kpc) and exhibit more diffuse and irregular morphologies (median M_20 of -1.08 +/- 0.05 vs. -1.48 +/- 0.05). These trends are qualitatively consistent with expectations from simulations of major mergers in which merging systems during the peak star-formation rate period evolve from M_20 = -1.0 to M_20 = -1.7. Less obscured ULIRGs (i.e., non-DOGs) tend to have more regular, centrally peaked, single-object morphologies rather than diffuse and irregular morphologies. This distinction in morphologies may imply that less obscured ULIRGs sample the merger near the end of the peak star-formation rate period. Alternatively, it may indicate that the intense star-formation in these less-obscured ULIRGs is not the result of a recent major merger.Comment: Accepted to ApJ; 22 pages, 8 Figures, 7 Table

Topics: Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics, Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1088/0004-637X/733/1/21
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