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Title: The environmental dependence of galaxy evolution
Author: Burton, Christopher Steven
Awarding Body: University of Hertfordshire
Current Institution: University of Hertfordshire
Date of Award: 2013
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Observations of galaxy environments have revealed numerous correlations associated with their intrinsic properties. It is therefore clear that if we are to understand the processes by which galaxies form and evolve, we have to consider the role of their immediate environment and how these trends change across cosmic time. In this thesis, I investigate the relationship between the environmental densities of galaxies and their associated properties by developing and implementing a novel approach to measuring galaxy environments on individual galaxy scales with Voronoi tessellations. Using optical spectroscopy and photometry from GAMA and SDSS, with 250μm far-infrared observations from the Herschel-ATLAS SDP and Phase-One fields, the environmental and star formation properties of far-infrared detected and non–far-infrared detected galaxies are compared out to z ∼ 0.5. Applying statistical analyses to colour, magnitude and redshift-matched samples, I show there to be significant differences between the normalised density distributions of the optical and far-infrared selected samples, at the 3.5σ level for the SDP increasing to > 5σ when combined with the Phase-One data. This is such that infrared emission (a tracer of star formation activity) favours underdense regions, in agreement with previous studies that have proposed such a correlation. I then apply my method to synthetic light cones generated from semianalytic models (SAMs), finding that over the whole redshift distribution the same correlations between star-formation rate and environmental density are found. However, as the SAMs restrict the role of ram-pressure stripping, the fact that we find the same qualitative results may preclude ram-pressure as a key mechanism in truncating star formation. I also find significant correlations between isothermal dust temperature and environment, such that the coldest sources reside in the densest regions at the 3.9σ level, indicating that the observed far-infrared emission in these densest regions is the product of ISM heating by the older stellar populations. I then extend my analysis to a deeper sample of galaxies out to z ∼ 2.2, combining near-infrared and optical photometry from the VIDEO and CFHTLS-D1 observations, cross-matched in colour, magnitude and redshift against 1.4 GHz VLA radio observations. Across the entire radio sample, galaxies with radio detected emission are found to reside in more overdense environments at a 4.0σ significance level. I then divide my radio sample to investigate environmental dependence on both radio detected star-forming galaxies and radio detected AGN individually, based upon a luminosity selection defined as L = 1023 W Hz−1. The same trends with environment are shown by my Radio-AGN sample (L > 1023 W Hz−1) which favour overdense regions at the 4.5σ level, suggestive of the interaction processes (i.e. major mergers) that are believed to trigger accretion, in agreement with earlier work that has suggested such a relationship. At lower radio luminosities, my Radio-SF sample (L < 1023 W Hz−1) also display a significant trend towards overdense regions in comparison to my nonradio detected sample, at the less significant level of 2.7σ. This is suggestive of the low overall bolometric luminosity of radio emission in star forming galaxies, leading to only the brightest radio emitting star forming galaxies being observed and a bias towards overdense regions. This is in addition to the fact that the luminosity selection used to separate AGN from star forming galaxies is not a perfect selection and open to AGN contamination in the low-luminosity sample. I conclude that the next generation of deep radio surveys, which are expected to reach many orders of magnitude deeper than current observations, will remove radio-loud AGN contamination and allow for the detection of low-luminosity star forming galaxies via radio emission out to high redshifts. This work has allowed for the environments of galaxies to be probed on smallerscales and across both wider and deeper samples than previous studies. With significant environmental correlations being returned, this indicates that the established processes responsible for such trends must have influence on the most local of scales.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: galaxies ; evolution ; formation ; star formation ; infrared ; statistics