The evolution of the number density of large disk galaxies in COSMOS

M. T. Sargent, C. M. Carollo, S. J. Lilly, C. Scarlata, R. Feldmann, P. Kampczyk, A. M. Koekemoer, N. Scoville, J. P. Kneib, A. Leauthaud, R. Massey, J. Rhodes, L. A.M. Tasca, P. Capak, H. J. McCracken, C. Porciani, A. Renzini, Y. Taniguchi, D. J. Thompson, K. Sheth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


We study a sample of approximately 16,500 galaxies with I ACS,AB ≤ 22.5 in the central 38% of the COSMOS field, which are extracted from a catalog constructed from the Cycle 12 ACS F814W COSMOS data set. Structural information on the galaxies is derived by fitting single Sérsic models to their two-dimensional surface brightness distributions. In this paper we focus on the disk galaxy population (as classified by the Zurich Estimator of Structural Types), and investigate the evolution of the number density of disk galaxies larger than approximately 5 kpc between redshift z ∼ 1 and the present epoch. Specifically, we use the measurements of the half-light radii derived from the Sérsic fits to construct, as a function of redshift, the size function Φ(r 1/2, z) of both the total disk galaxy population and of disk galaxies split in four bins of bulge-to-disk ratio. In each redshift bin, the size function specifies the number of galaxies per unit comoving volume and per unit half-light radius r 1/2. Furthermore, we use a selected sample of roughly 1800 SDSS galaxies to calibrate our results with respect to the local universe. We find the following: (1) The number density of disk galaxies with intermediate sizes (r 1/2 ∼ 5-7 kpc) remains nearly constant from z ∼ 1 to today. Unless the growth and destruction of such systems exactly balanced in the last eight billion years, they must have neither grown nor been destroyed over this period. (2) The number density of the largest disks (r 1/2 > 7 kpc) decreases by a factor of about 2 out to z ∼ 1. (3) There is a constancy - or even slight increase - in the number density of large bulgeless disks out to z ∼ 1; the deficit of large disks at early epochs seems to arise from a smaller number of bulged disks. Our results indicate that the bulk of the large disk galaxy population has completed its growth by z ∼ 1 and support the theory that secular evolution processes produce-or at least add stellar mass to-the bulge components of disk galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-455
Number of pages22
JournalAstrophysical Journal, Supplement Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007


  • Cosmology: observations
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Large-scale structure of universe
  • Surveys

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