The SWIRE-VVDS-CFHTLS surveys: stellar mass assembly over the last 10 Gyr. Evidence for a major build up of the red sequence between z = 2 and z = 1

S. Arnouts, J. Walcher, O. Le Fèvre, G. Zamorani, O. Ilbert, V. Le Brun, L. Pozzetti, S. Bardelli, L. Tresse, E. Zucca, S. Charlot, F. Lamareille, J. McCracken, M. Bolzonella, A. Iovino, C. Lonsdale, M. Polletta, J. Surace, D. Bottini, B. GarilliD. Maccagni, P. Picat, R. Scaramella, M. Scodeggio, G. Vettolani, A. Zanichelli, C. Adami, A. Cappi, P. Ciliegi, T. Contini, S. De La Torre, S. Foucaud, P. Franzetti, I. Gavignaud, L. Guzzo, B. Marano, C. Marinoni, A. Mazure, B. Meneux, R. Merighi, S. Paltani, R. Pellò, A. Pollo, M. Radovich, S. Temporin, D. Vergani

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260 Citations (Scopus)


We present an analysis of the stellar mass growth over the last 10 Gyr () using a unique large sample of galaxies selected at m. We have assembled accurate photometric and spectroscopic redshifts for ~21200 and 1500 galaxies, respectively, with (3.6 m) 9.0 Jy by combining data from Spitzer-SWIRE IRAC, the VIMOS VLT Deep Survey (VVDS), UKIDSS and very deep optical CFHTLS photometry. We split our sample into quiescent (red) and active (blue) galaxies on the basis of an SED fitting procedure that we have compared with the strong rest-frame color bimodality . The present sample contains ~ 4400 quiescent galaxies. Our measurements of the K-rest frame luminosity function and luminosity density evolution support the idea that a large fraction of galaxies is already assembled at ~ 1.2, with almost 80% and 50% of the active and quiescent populations already in place, respectively. Based on the analysis of the evolution of the stellar mass-to-light ratio (in -band) for the spectroscopic sub-sample, we derive the stellar mass density for the entire sample. We find that the global evolution of the stellar mass density is well reproduced by the star formation rate derived from UV based measurements when an appropriate dust correction is applied, which supports the idea of an initial mass function that is on average universal. Over the last 8 Gyr ( 1.2) we observe that the stellar mass density of the active population shows a modest mass growth rate ( ~ 0.005(0.005) /Mpc/yr), consistent with a constant stellar mass density, ~ 3.1 10 /Mpc. In contrast, an increase by a factor of ~2 for the quiescent population over the same timescale is observed. As a consequence, the growth of the stellar mass in the quiescent population must be due to the shutoff of star formation in active galaxies that migrate into the quiescent population. We estimate this stellar mass flux to be ~ 0.017(0.004) /Mpc/yr, which balances the major fraction of new stars born according to our best SFR estimate ( = 0.025(0.003) /Mpc/yr). From to , we observe a major build-up of the quiescent population with an increase by a factor of ~10 in stellar mass (a mass growth rate of ~ 0.063 /Mpc/yr). This rapid evolution suggests that we are observing the epoch when, for the first time in the history of the universe, an increasing fraction of galaxies end their star formation activity and start to build up the red sequence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-150
Number of pages14
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: luminosity function, mass function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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