THE ORIGIN OF THE 24 mu m EXCESS IN RED GALAXIES Academic Article uri icon


  • Observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope have revealed a population of red sequence galaxies with a significant excess in their 24 m emission compared to what is expected from an old stellar population. We identify 900 red galaxies with 0.15 z 0.3 from the AGN and Galaxy Evolution Survey (AGES) selected from the NOAO Deep Wide-Field Survey Botes field. Using Spitzer MIPS, we classify 89 (10%) with 24 m infrared excess (f 24 0.3 mJy). We determine the prevalence of active galactic nucleus (AGN) and star-formation activity in all the AGES galaxies using optical line diagnostics and mid-IR color-color criteria. Using the IRAC color-color diagram from the Spitzer Shallow Survey, we find that 64% of the 24 m excess red galaxies are likely to have strong polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emission features in the 8 m IRAC band. This fraction is significantly larger than the 5% of red galaxies with f 24< 0.3 mJy that are estimated to have strong PAH emission, suggesting that the infrared emission is largely due to star-formation processes. Only 15% of the 24 m excess red galaxies have optical line diagnostics characteristic of star formation (64% are classified as AGN and 21% are unclassifiable). The difference between the optical and infrared results suggests that both AGN and star-formation activity are occurring simultaneously in many of the 24 m excess red galaxies. These results should serve as a warning to studies that exclusively use optical line diagnostics to determine the dominant emission mechanism in the infrared and other bands. We find that 40% of the 24 m excess red galaxies are edge-on spiral galaxies with high optical extinctions. The remaining sources are likely to be red galaxies whose 24 m emission comes from a combination of obscured AGN and star-formation activity. 2009. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Brand, K., Moustakas, J., Armus, L., Assef, R. J., Brown, M., Cool, R. R., ... Soifer, B. T.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • Brand, Kate||Moustakas, John||Armus, Lee||Assef, Roberto J||Brown, Michael JI||Cool, Richard R||Desai, Vandana||Dey, Arjun||Le Floc'h, Emeric||Jannuzi, Buell T||Kochanek, Christopher S||Melbourne, Jason||Papovich, Casey J||Soifer, BT

publication date

  • March 2009