An alma survey of submillimeter galaxies in the extended chandra deep field south: Near-infrared morphologies and stellar sizes

Chian Chou Chen, Ian Smail, A. M. Swinbank, J. M. Simpson, Cheng Jiun Ma, D. M. Alexander, A. D. Biggs, W. N. Brandt, S. C. Chapman, K. E.K. Coppin, A. L.R. Danielson, H. Dannerbauer, A. C. Edge, T. R. Greve, R. J. Ivison, A. Karim, Karl M. Menten, E. Schinnerer, F. Walter, J. L. WardlowA. Weiß, P. P. Van Der Werf

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107 Scopus citations


We analyze Hubble Space Telescope WFC3/H160-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 H160-band imaging with a median sensitivity of 27.8mag, and most (80%) of the nondetections are SMGs with 870 μm fluxes of S870 < 3 mJy. with a surface brightness limit of μH ∼ 26 mag arcsec-2, we find that 82% ± 9% of the H160-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 H160 surface brightness profiles, we derive a median Sérsic index of n = 1.2 ± 0.3 and a median half-light radius of re = 4.4-0.5+1.1 kpc for our SMGs at z = 1-3. We also find significant displacements between the positions of the H160 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 S870 ≳ 2mJy are early/mid-stage major mergers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number194
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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