From rings to bulges: Evidence for rapid secular galaxy evolution at z ∼ 2 from integral field spectroscopy in the sins survey

R. Genzel*, A. Burkert, N. Bouché, G. Cresci, N. M. Förster Schreiber, A. Shapley, K. Shapiro, L. J. Tacconi, P. Buschkamp, A. Cimatti, E. Daddi, R. Davies, F. Eisenhauer, D. K. Erb, S. Genel, O. Gerhard, E. Hicks, D. Lutz, T. Naab, T. OttS. Rabien, A. Renzini, C. C. Steidel, A. Sternberg, S. J. Lilly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present Hα integral field spectroscopy of well-resolved, UV/optically selected z ∼ 2 star-forming galaxies as part of the SINS survey with SINFONI on the ESO VLT. Our laser guide star adaptive optics and good seeing data show the presence of turbulent rotating star-forming outer rings/disks, plus central bulge/inner disk components, whose mass fractions relative to the total dynamical mass appear to scale with the [N ii]/Hα flux ratio and the star formation age.We propose that the buildup of the central disks and bulges of massive galaxies at z ∼ 2 can be driven by the early secular evolution of gas-rich proto-disks. High-redshift disks exhibit large random motions. This turbulence may in part be stirred up by the release of gravitational energy in the rapid "cold" accretion flows along the filaments of the cosmic web. As a result, dynamical friction and viscous processes proceed on a timescale of >1 Gyr, at least an order of magnitude faster than in z ∼ 0 disk galaxies. Early secular evolution thus drives gas and stars into the central regions and can build up exponential disks and massive bulges, even without major mergers. Secular evolution along with increased efficiency of star formation at high surface densities may also help to account for the short timescales of the stellar buildup observed in massive galaxies at z ∼ 2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-77
Number of pages19
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2008


  • Cosmology: observations
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Infrared: galaxies


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