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Constraints on the assembly and dynamics of galaxies. II. Properties of kiloparsec-scale clumps in rest-frame optical emission of z ~ 2 star-forming galaxies

By N. M. Förster Schreiber, A. E. Shapley, R. Genzel, N. Bouché, G. Cresci, R. Davies, D. K. Erb, S. Genel, D. Lutz, S. Newman, K. L. Shapiro, C. C. Steidel, A. Sternberg and L. J. Tacconi


We study the properties of luminous stellar clumps identified in deep, high resolution HST/NIC2 F160W imaging at 1.6um of six z~2 star-forming galaxies with existing near-IR integral field spectroscopy from SINFONI at the VLT. Individual clumps contribute ~0.5%-15% of the galaxy-integrated rest-frame ~5000A emission, with median of about 2%; the total contribution of clump light ranges from 10%-25%. The median intrinsic clump size and stellar mass are ~1kpc and log(Mstar[Msun])~9, in the ranges for clumps identified in rest-UV or line emission in other studies. The clump sizes and masses in the subset of disks are broadly consistent with expectations for clump formation via gravitational instabilities in gas-rich, turbulent disks given the host galaxies' global properties. By combining the NIC2 data with ACS/F814W imaging available for one source, and AO-assisted SINFONI Halpha data for another, we infer modest color, M/L, and stellar age variations within each galaxy. In these two objects, sets of clumps identified at different wavelengths do not fully overlap; NIC2-identified clumps tend to be redder/older than ACS- or Halpha-identified clumps without rest-frame optical counterparts. There is evidence for a systematic trend of older ages at smaller galactocentric radii among the clumps, consistent with scenarios where inward migration of clumps transports material towards the central regions. From constraints on a bulge-like component at radii <1-3kpc, none of the five disks in our sample appears to contain a compact massive stellar core, and we do not discern a trend of bulge stellar mass fraction with stellar age of the galaxy. Further observations are necessary to probe the build-up of stellar bulges and the role of clumps in this process.Comment: 29 pages, 11 figures. Revised version accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journa

Topics: Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1088/0004-637X/739/1/45
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