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Suei-Hei (Dexter) Hon

The absence of compact, quiescent massive galaxies, known as “red nuggets” (Damjanov et al. 2009 ), in the local Universe is an unsolved mystery in astronomy. These objects, with effective radius R e < ~2 kpc and Masses > (0.4-0.7) x 10 11 M ⨀ , are relatively common at redshift z~1.5. It has commonly been speculated that they grew in size through minor (dry) mergers to become elliptical galaxies by z=0. We attempt to examine the alternative gas accretion and minor merger hypothesis proposed by Graham et al. 2015, that the accreted material forms a disk around the compact galaxy which becomes today’s lenticular galaxies, cloaking the red nuggets as the bulge. This project will compare the number density of compact massive bulges in the local Universe with the high-redshift compact massive galaxies, in turn providing constraints to the fraction of galaxies that went through such an evolution pathway.

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