Hunting for VIPERS red nuggets - traces of the past

Krzysztof Lisiecki
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Vimos Public Extragalactic Redshift Survey (VIPERS) is a spectroscopic survey designed to  investigate the spatial distribution of ~90k galaxies on redshift 0.4<z<1.2. The catalogue of spectroscopic observations, combined with auxiliary photometric data, is perfect for evolutionary studies of different types of galaxies. But also for tracing rare objects. One of them are the so-called “red nuggets”, progenitors of the most massive galaxies in the local Universe.  The discovery of red nuggets - highly massive, passive and extremely compact galaxies  -  at high redshift challenged the leading cosmological models, as they do not fit into the evolutionary paths of passive galaxies. Taking into account  that  the galaxies' mergers are stochastic events, it is possible that some red nuggets  remain relatively unaltered for billions of years. Those survivors constitute a group of unique galaxies in the local Universe,  commonly named “relics”. Despite numerous studies dedicated to red nuggets and relics, the link between the population of compact, massive, passive galaxies in the early Universe and their remnants in the local Universe, is still poorly understood.

In my talk I  will present the first spectroscopically selected catalogue of red nuggets at the intermediate redshift.  It is the most extensive catalogue of this kind of galaxies above redshift z > 0.5.  Selected under the most strict criteria, the group of 77 objects consists of a statistically important sample, which allows for analysis of physical properties of those rare passive giants. I will discuss the influence of compactness criteria on the sample size. Moreover I will present  VIPERS red nuggets number densities and discuss the environmental preferences of those exceptional galaxies.