An early phase of environmental effects on galaxy properties unveiled by near-infrared spectroscopy of protocluster galaxies at z > 2

Rhythm Shimakawa, Tadayuki Kodama, Ken ichi Tadaki, Masao Hayashi, Yusei Koyama, Ichi Tanaka

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56 Citations (Scopus)


This work presents the results from our near-infrared spectroscopy of narrow-band-selected Hα emitters (HAEs) in two rich overdensities (PKS 1138-262 at z = 2.2 and USS 1558-003 at z = 2.5) with the Multi-Object Infrared Camera and Spectrograph on the Subaru telescope. These protoclusters are promising candidates for the most massive class of galaxy clusters seen today (Paper I). The confirmed HAEs in the protoclusters at z > 2 show high excitation levels as characterized by much higher [O III]/Hβ or [O III]/Hα line ratios than those of general galaxies at low-z. Such a high excitation level may not only be driven by high specific star formation rates and lower gaseous metallicities, but also be contributed by some other effects. We investigate the environmental dependence of gaseous metallicities by comparing the HAEs in the protoclustrers with those in the general field at similar redshifts.We find that the gaseous metallicities of protocluster galaxies are more chemically enriched than those of field galaxies at a given stellar mass in the range of M* ≲ 1011M. This can be attributed to many processes, such as intrinsic (or nature) effects, external (or nurture) effects, and/or some systematic sampling effects. The intrinsic (nature) effect leads to the advanced stage of 'downsizing' galaxy evolution in protoclusters. On the other hand, the external (nurture) effects include the recycling of chemically enriched gas due to the higher pressure of intergalactic medium and/or stripping of outer gas in the reservoir in protoclusters.We also find that the offset of the mass-metallicity relation in dense environment becomes larger at higher redshifts. This can be naturally understood by the fact that the inflow/outflow rates in star-forming galaxies are much higher at higher redshifts. Therefore, the environmental dependence of such 'feeding' and 'feedback' mechanisms in galaxy formation is probably playing major roles in producing the offset of the mass-metallicity relation for the protocluster galaxies at z > 2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)666-680
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 21


  • Galaxies: clusters: general
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation


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