Identification and Quenching of Nugget Galaxies in the RESOLVE Survey at z = 0

Carr, Derrick S., Kannappan, Sheila J., Norris, Mark orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7001-805X, Sinha, Manodeep, Palumbo, Michael L., Eckert, Kathleen D., Moffett, Amanda J., Polimera, Mugdha S., Bernstein, Joel I. et al (2024) Identification and Quenching of Nugget Galaxies in the RESOLVE Survey at z = 0. Astrophysical Journal, 968 (1). ISSN 0004-637X

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We present a complete census of candidate nuggets, i.e., dense galaxies likely formed by compaction with intense gas influx, within the volume-limited redshift z ∼ 0 REsolved Spectroscopy Of a Local VolumE (RESOLVE) survey. These nuggets span all evolutionary stages and 3 orders of magnitude in stellar mass (M * ∼ 108 to 1011 M ⊙) from the dwarf to the giant regime. We develop selection criteria for our z ∼ 0 nugget candidates based on structure and introduce the use of environmental criteria to eliminate nugget-like objects with suspected non-compaction origins. The resulting z ∼ 0 nuggets follow expectations with respect to structure (i.e., density, size), population frequency, and likely origins. We show that the properties of our nugget census are consistent with permanent quenching above the gas-richness threshold scale (halo mass M halo ∼ 1011.4 M ⊙), cyclic temporary quenching below the threshold scale, and feedback from active galactic nuclei (AGN) assisting in permanent quenching. As predicted in simulations, most nuggets quench within a halo mass range of M halo ∼ 1011.45 to 1011.9 M ⊙. We find ∼0.29 dex scatter around the star-forming main sequence for candidate blue nuggets below the threshold scale, which is consistent with temporary quenching as seen in simulations. A transitional population of green nuggets appears above the threshold scale. AGN also become more common in nuggets above this scale, and we see a likely AGN excess in nuggets versus comparably selected non-nuggets. Our results provide the first observational confirmation of the mass-dependent, AGN-mediated shift from cyclic quenching to halo quenching in nuggets.

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