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The galaxies hosting the most energetic explosions in the universe, the gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), are generally found to be low-mass, metal-poor, blue and star forming. However, the majority of the targets investigated so far (less than 100) are at relatively low redshift, z < 2. We know that at low redshift, the cosmic star formation is predominantly in small galaxies. Therefore, at low redshift, long-duration GRBs, which are associated with massive stars, are expected to be in small galaxies. Preliminary investigations of the stellar mass function of z < 1.5 GRB hosts does not indicate that these galaxies are different from the general population of nearby star-forming galaxies. At high-z, it is still unclear whether GRB hosts are different. Recent results indicate that a fraction of them might be in dusty regions of massive galaxies. Remarkable is the a super-solar metallicity measured in the interstellar medium of a z = 3.57 GRB host.
Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the brightest events in the universe. They have been used in the last five years to study the cosmic chemical evolution, from the local universe to the first stars. The sample size is still relatively small when compared to field galaxy surveys. However, GRBs show a universe that is surprising. At z > 2, the cold interstellar medium in galaxies is chemically evolved, with a mean metallicity of about 1/10 solar. At lower redshift (z < 1), metallicities of the ionized gas are relatively low, on average 1/6 solar. Not only is there no evidence of redshift evolution in the interval 0 < z < 6.3, but also the dispersion in the ~30 objects is large. This suggests that the metallicity of host galaxies is not the physical quantity triggering GRB events. From the investigation of other galaxy parameters, it emerges that active star-formation might be a stronger requirement to produce a GRB. Several recent striking results strongly support the idea that GRB studies open a new view on our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution, back to the very primordial universe at z ~ 8.
Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are cosmologically distributed, very energetic and very transient sources detected in the γ-ray domain. The identification of their x-ray and optical afterglows allowed so far the redshift measurement of 150 events, from z = 0.01 to z = 6.29. For about half of them, we have some knowledge of the properties of the parent galaxy. At high redshift (z > 2), absorption lines in the afterglow spectra give information on the cold interstellar medium in the host. At low redshift (z < 1.0) multi-band optical-NIR photometry and integrated spectroscopy reveal the GRB host general properties. A redshift evolution of metallicity is not noticeable in the whole sample. The typical value is a few times lower than solar. The mean host stellar mass is similar to that of the Large Magellanic Cloud, but the mean star formation rate is five times higher. GRBs are discovered with γ-ray, not optical or NIR, instruments. Their hosts do not suffer from the same selection biases of typical galaxy surveys. Therefore, they might represent a fair sample of the most common galaxies that existed in the past history of the universe, and can be used to better understand galaxy formation and evolution.
We have used the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys to measure the mass density function of morphologically-selected early-type galaxies in the Gemini Deep Deep Survey fields, over the redshift range 0.9 < z < 1.6. Our imaging data set covers four well-separated sight-lines, and is roughly intermediate (in terms of both depth and area) between the GOODS/GEMS imaging data, and the images obtained in the Hubble Deep Field campaigns. Our images contain 144 galaxies with ultra-deep spectroscopy, and they have been analyzed using a new purpose-written morphological analysis code which improves the reliability of morphological classifications by adopting a ‘quasi-petrosian’ image thresholding technique. We find that at z = 1 approximately 70% of the stars in massive galaxies reside in early-type systems. This fraction is remarkably similar to that seen in the local Universe. However, we detect very rapid evolution in this fraction over the range 1.0 < z < 1.6, suggesting that in this epoch the strong color-morphology relationship seen in the nearby Universe is beginning to fall into place.
According to Pei, Fall, & Hauser (1999), the global metallicity evolution of the Universe can be represented by the ratio of the total metal content to the total gas content measured in damped Lyman–α (DLA) systems (the “column density weighted metallicity” à la Pettini). To minimize dust obscuration effects, a DLA sample with negligible dust content is considered, namely, 50 DLAs with log NHI < 20.8. The global metallicity found shows clear evidence of redshift evolution that goes from ~ 1/30 solar at z ~ 4.1 to solar at z ~ 0.4. More generally, DLAs with measured heavy elements probe the ISM of high redshift galaxies. The whole sample collected from the literature contains 75 DLAs. The metallicity is calculated adopting for the dust correction the most general method used so far, based on models of the ISM dust depletions in the Galaxy. The intrinsic metallicity evolution of DLA galaxies is d log ZDLA/dz = −0.33 ± 0.06.
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