Exploring the high-mass end of the stellar mass function of star-forming galaxies at cosmic noon

Sydney Sherman, Shardha Jogee, Jonathan Florez, Matthew L. Stevans, Lalitwadee Kawinwanichakij, Isak Wold, Steven L. Finkelstein, Casey Papovich, Viviana Acquaviva, Robin Ciardullo, Caryl Gronwall, Zacharias Escalante

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We present the high-mass end of the galaxy stellar mass function using the largest sample to date (5352) of star-forming galaxies with M∗ > 1011M⊙ at cosmic noon, 1.5 < z < 3.5. This sample is uniformly selected across 17.2 deg2 (∼0.44 Gpc3 comoving volume from 1.5 < z < 3.5), mitigating the effects of cosmic variance and encompassing a wide range of environments. This area, a factor of 10 larger than previous studies, provides robust statistics at the high-mass end. Using multiwavelength data in the Spitzer/HETDEX Exploratory Large Area (SHELA) footprint, we find that the SHELA footprint star-forming galaxy stellar mass function is steeply declining at the high-mass end probing values as high as ∼10-4 Mpc3 dex-1 and as low as ∼5 × 10-8 Mpc3 dex-1 across a stellar mass range of log(M∗/M∗) ∼ 11-12. We compare our empirical star-forming galaxy stellar mass function at the high-mass end to three types of numerical models: hydrodynamical models from IllustrisTNG, abundance matching from the Universe Machine, and three different semi-analytical models (SAMs; SAG, SAGE, GALACTICUS). At redshifts 1.5 < z < 3.5, we find that results from IllustrisTNG and abundance matching models agree within a factor of ∼2-10, however the three SAMs strongly underestimate (up to a factor of 1000) the number density of massive galaxies. We discuss the implications of these results for our understanding of galaxy evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3318-3335
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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