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One Bird, Several Stones: Investigating Massive Galaxies via Stellar Kinematics, Environment, and Quasar Demographics

  • Author(s): Veale, Melanie;
  • Advisor(s): Ma, Chung-Pei;
  • White, Martin
  • et al.

Massive galaxies are the end product of a long evolutionary history, impacted by many complex processes. A coupling between quasars and their host galaxies is thought to be an important factor in quenching star formation in these galaxies, although a single unified picture of this process has yet to emerge. The first and smaller portion of this work compares several simple models for quasar demographics, tuning the model parameters to match observations at redshifts from z = 1 to z = 6. A key feature of the models is the enforcement of self-consistent mass growth across time. A variety of models fit the observed luminosity functions, but physical arguments and comparison to additional observations can distinguish among the models. The second and larger portion of this work focuses on two-dimensional stellar kinematics for the most massive local galaxies. The MASSIVE survey is a volume-limited sample of 116 galaxies with absolute magnitude MK < −25.3 mag, corresponding to stellar mass above approximately 10^11.8 M⊙, within a distance of D < 108 Mpc in the northern hemisphere, with observations from the Mitchell Integral Field Spectrograph (IFS) for each galaxy a main component of the survey. The line-of-sight velocity distribution (LOSVD) is extracted from optical spectra over a 107′′ square field of view, with a Gauss- Hermite parameterization up to order 6. After characterizing the statistics of the velocity V , dispersion σ, and higher moments h3, h4, h5, and h6 for the most massive 41 galaxies of the sample, the first two moments (rotation velocity V and dispersion σ) are studied in more detail as a function of galaxy environment. Several measures of environment are calculated, and particular attention is paid to untangling the joint correlations among kinematic properties, galaxy mass, and galaxy environment. The properties of the MASSIVE sample suggest that merger histories and galaxy environment impact galaxy mass and angular momentum in tandem, with no independent correlation between angular momentum and environment once mass is controlled for. The shape of radial velocity dispersion profiles, however, depends on both galaxy mass and environment, with the correlation between dispersion profiles and environment persisting even when mass is controlled for (and vice versa). We include discussion of the kurtosis h4 to distinguish qualitatively between the influence of the total mass profiles and velocity anisotropy on the line-of-sight dispersion profile, and argue that variations from isothermal total mass profiles are very likely in our sample.

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