We study the evolution since z ∼ 1 of the rest-frame B luminosity function of ETGs in ∼0.7 deg 2 in the COSMOS field. In order to identify all progenitors of local ETGs we construct the sample of high-z galaxies using two complementary criteria: (1) a morphological selection based on the Zurich Estimator of Structural Types and (2) a photometric selection based on the galaxy properties in the (U - V)-M v color-magnitude diagram. We furthermore constrain both samples so as to ensure that the selected progenitors of ETGs are compatible with evolving into systems that obey the μ B-r hl Kormendy relation. Assuming the luminosity evolution derived from studies of the fundamental plane for high-z ETGs, our analysis shows no evidence for a decrease in the number density of the most massive ETGs out to z ∼ 0.7: both the morphologically and the photometrically selected subsamples show no evolution in the number density of bright (∼L > 2.5L*) ETGs. Allowing for different star formation histories, and cosmic variance, we estimate a maximum decrease in the number density of massive galaxies at that redshift of ∼30%. We observe, however, in both the photometric and morphological samples, a deficit of up to about 2-3 of fainter ETGs over the same cosmic period. Our results argue against a significant contribution of recent dissipationless "dry" mergers to the formation of the most massive ETGs. We suggest that the mass growth in low-luminosity ETGs can be explained with a conversion from z ∼ 0.7 to z = 0 of blue, irregular, and disk galaxies into low- and intermediate-mass "red" ETGs, possibly also through gas-rich mergers.
- Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
- Galaxies: evolution
- Galaxies: formation
- Galaxies: structure