Journal Article

Simulating the physics and mass assembly of distant galaxies out to <i>z</i>∼ 6 with the E-ELT

M. Puech, P. Rosati, S. Toft, A. Cimatti, B. Neichel and T. Fusco

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 402, issue 2, pages 903-922
Published in print February 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15981.x
Simulating the physics and mass assembly of distant galaxies out to z∼ 6 with the E-ELT

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One of the main scientific goals of the future European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) will be to understand the mass assembly process in galaxies as a function of cosmic time. To this aim, a multi-object, adaptive optics (AO)-assisted integral field spectrograph will be required to map the physical and chemical properties of very distant galaxies. In this paper, we examine the ability of such an instrument to obtain spatially resolved spectroscopy of a large sample of massive (0.1 ≤Mstellar≤ 5 × 1011 M) galaxies at 2 ≤z < 6, selected from future large area optical–near-IR surveys. We produced a set of about 1000 numerical simulations of 3D observations using reasonable assumptions about the site, telescope and instrument and about the physics of distant galaxies. These data cubes were analysed as real data to produce realistic kinematic measurements of very distant galaxies. We then studied how sensitive the scientific goals are to the observational (i.e. site-, telescope- and instrument-related) and physical (i.e. galaxy-related) parameters. We specifically investigated the impact of AO performance on the scientific goals. We did not identify any breaking points with respect to the parameters (e.g. the telescope diameter), with the exception of the telescope thermal background, which strongly limits the performance in the highest (z > 5) redshift bin. We find that a survey of Ngal galaxies that fulfil the range of scientific goals can be achieved with an ∼90-night programme on the E-ELT, provided a multiplex capability MNgal/8.

Keywords: instrumentation: adaptive optics; instrumentation: high angular resolution; instrumentation: spectrographs; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: high-redshift; galaxies: kinematics and dynamics

Journal Article.  15305 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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