H-ATLAS/GAMA: quantifying the morphological evolution of the galaxy population using cosmic calorimetry

Stephen Eales*, Andrew Fullard, Matthew Allen, M. W.L. Smith, Ivan Baldry, Nathan Bourne, C. J.R. Clark, Simon Driver, Loretta Dunne, Simon Dye, Alister W. Graham, Edo Ibar, Andrew Hopkins, Rob Ivison, Lee S. Kelvin, Steve Maddox, Claudia Maraston, Aaron S.G. Robotham, Dan Smith, Edward N. TaylorElisabetta Valiante, Paul Van Der Werf, Maarten Baes, Sarah Brough, David Clements, Asantha Cooray, Haley Gomez, Jon Loveday, Steven Phillipps, Douglas Scott, Steve Serjeant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Using results from the Herschel Astrophysical Terrahertz Large-Area Survey (H-ATLAS) and the Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA) project, we show that, for galaxy masses above ≃ 108M, 51 per cent of the stellar mass-density in the local Universe is in earlytype galaxies (ETGs; Sérsic n > 2.5) while 89 per cent of the rate of production of stellar mass-density is occurring in late-type galaxies (LTGs; Sérsic n < 2.5). From this zeroredshift benchmark, we have used a calorimetric technique to quantify the importance of the morphological transformation of galaxies over the history of the Universe. The extragalactic background radiation contains all the energy generated by nuclear fusion in stars since the big bang. By resolving this background radiation into individual galaxies using the deepest farinfrared survey with the Herschel Space Observatory and a deep near-infrared/optical survey with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), and using measurements of the Sérsic index of these galaxies derived from the HST images, we estimate that ≃ 83 per cent of the stellarmass-density formed over the history of the Universe occurred in LTGs. The difference between this value and the fraction of the stellar mass-density that is in LTGs today implies there must have been a major transformation of LTGs into ETGs after the formation of most of the stars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3489-3507
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: bulges
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: star formation


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