Relatively few intensively star-forming galaxies at redshifts of z > 2.5 have been found in the Hubble Deep Field (HDF). This has been interpreted to imply a low space density of elliptical galaxies at high z, possibly due to a late (z < 2.5) epoch of formation or to dust obscuration of the ellipticals that are forming at z ∼ 3. I use Hubble Space Telescope UV (∼2300 Å) images of 25 local early-type galaxies to investigate a third option, that ellipticals formed at z > 4.5 and were fading passively by 2 < z < 4.5. Present-day early-type galaxies are faint and centrally concentrated in the UV. If elliptical galaxies formed their stars in a short burst at z > 4.5 and have faded passively to their present brightnesses at UV wavelengths, they would generally be below the HDF detection limits in any of its bands at z > 2.5. Quiescent z ∼ 3 ellipticals, if they exist, should turn up in sufficiently deep IR images.
- Cosmology: observations
- Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
- Galaxies: evolution
- Galaxies: formation
- Ultraviolet: galaxies