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The LABOCA survey of the Extended Chandra Deep Field-South: Clustering of submillimetre galaxies

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Ryan C. Hickox
  • J. L. Wardlow
  • Ian Smail
  • A. D. Myers
  • D. M. Alexander
  • A. M. Swinbank
  • A. L R Danielson
  • J. P. Stott
  • S. C. Chapman
  • K. E K Coppin
  • J. S. Dunlop
  • E. Gawiser
  • D. Lutz
  • P. van der Werf
  • A. Weiß
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>21/03/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)284-295
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date6/03/12
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We present a measurement of the spatial clustering of submillimetre galaxies (SMGs) at z= 1-3. Using data from the 870μm Large APEX Bolometer Camera (LABOCA) submillimetre survey of the Extended Chandra Deep Field-South, we employ a novel technique to measure the cross-correlation between SMGs and galaxies, accounting for the full probability distributions for photometric redshifts of the galaxies. From the observed projected two-point cross-correlation function we derive the linear bias and characteristic dark matter halo masses for the SMGs. We detect clustering in the cross-correlation between SMGs and galaxies at the >4σ level. Accounting for the clustering of galaxies from their autocorrelation function, we estimate an autocorrelation length for SMGs of r o = 7.7 -2.3 +1.8 h -1 Mpc assuming a power-law slope γ= 1.8, and derive a corresponding dark matter halo mass of log(M halo[h -1M ]) = 12.8 -0.5 +0.3. Based on the evolution of dark matter haloes derived from simulations, we show that that the z= 0 descendants of SMGs are typically massive (~2-3L *) elliptical galaxies residing in moderate- to high-mass groups (log(M halo[h -1M ]) = 13.3 -0.5 +0.3). From the observed clustering we estimate an SMG lifetime of ~100Myr, consistent with lifetimes derived from gas consumption times and star formation time-scales, although with considerable uncertainties. The clustering of SMGs at z~ 2 is consistent with measurements for optically selected quasi-stellar objects (QSOs), supporting evolutionary scenarios in which powerful starbursts and QSOs occur in the same systems. Given that SMGs reside in haloes of characteristic mass ~6 × 10 12h -1M , we demonstrate that the redshift distribution of SMGs can be described remarkably well by the combination of two effects: the cosmological growth of structure and the evolution of the molecular gas fraction in galaxies. We conclude that the powerful starbursts in SMGs likely represent a short-lived but universal phase in massive galaxy evolution, associated with the transition between cold gas-rich, star-forming galaxies and passively evolving systems.