The evolution of Balmer jump selected galaxies in the ALHAMBRA survey

Troncoso Iribarren, P.; Infante, L.; Padilla, N.; Lacerna, I.; Garcia, S.; Orsi, A.; Muñoz Arancibia, A.; Moustakas, J.; Cristóbal-Hornillos, J.; Moles, M.; Fernández-Soto, A.; Martínez, V. J.; Cerviño, M.; Alfaro, E. J.; Ascaso, B.; Arnalte-Mur, P.; Nieves-Seoane, L.; Benítez, N.
Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 588, id.A132, 14 pp. (2016).


Context. Samples of star-forming galaxies at different redshifts have been traditionally selected via color techniques. The ALHAMBRA survey was designed to perform a uniform cosmic tomography of the Universe, and we here exploit it to trace the evolution of these galaxies. 

Aims: Our objective is to use the homogeneous optical coverage of the ALHAMBRA filter system to select samples of star-forming galaxies at different epochs of the Universe and study their properties. 
Methods: We present a new color-selection technique, based on the models of spectral evolution convolved with the ALHAMBRA bands and the redshifted position of the Balmer jump to select star-forming galaxies in the redshift range 0.5 <z< 1.5. These galaxies are dubbed Balmer-jump Galaxies (BJGs). We applied the iSEDfit Bayesian approach to fit each detailed spectral energy distribution and determined star-formation rate (SFR), stellar mass, age, and absolute magnitudes. The mass of the halos in which these samples reside were found through a clustering analysis. 
Results: Five volume-limited BJG subsamples with different mean redshifts are found to reside in halos of median masses ~1012.5 ± 0.2 M slightly increasing toward z = 0.5. This increment is similar to numerical simulations results, which suggests that we trace the evolution of an evolving population of halos as they grow to reach a mass of ~1012.7 ± 0.1 at z = 0.5. The likely progenitors of our samples at z ~ 3 are Lyman-break galaxies, which at z ~ 2 would evolve into star-forming BzK galaxies, and their descendants in the local Universe are galaxies with luminosities of 1-3 L. Hence, this allows us to follow the putative evolution of the SFR, stellar mass, and age of these galaxies. 
Conclusions: From z ~ 1.0 to z ~ 0.5, the stellar mass of the volume-limited BJG samples changes almost not at all with redshift, suggesting that major mergers play a minor role in the evolution of these galaxies. The SFR evolution accounts for the small variations of stellar mass, suggesting that star formation and possible minor mergers are the main channels of mass assembly.

Based on data obtained at the Calar Alto Observatory.