Cosmic Vine: A z = 3.44 large-scale structure hosting massive quiescent galaxies

Shuowen Jin, Nikolaj B. Sillassen, Georgios E. Magdis, Malte Brinch, Marko Shuntov, Gabriel Brammer, Raphael Gobat, Francesco Valentino, Adam C. Carnall, Minju Lee, Aswin P. Vijayan, Steven Gillman, Vasily Kokorev, Aurélien Le Bail, Thomas R. Greve, Bitten Gullberg, Katriona M.L. Gould, Sune Toft

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We report the discovery of a large-scale structure at z = 3.44 revealed by JWST data in the Extended Groth Strip (EGS) field. This structure, called the Cosmic Vine, consists of 20 galaxies with spectroscopic redshifts at 3.43 < z < 3.45 and six galaxy overdensities (4−7σ) with consistent photometric redshifts, making up a vine-like structure extending over a ∼4 × 0.2 pMpc2 area. The two most massive galaxies (M∗ ≈ 1010.9 M ) of the Cosmic Vine are found to be quiescent with bulge-dominated morphologies (B/T > 70%). Comparisons with simulations suggest that the Cosmic Vine would form a cluster with halo mass Mhalo > 1014M at z = 0, and the two massive galaxies are likely forming the brightest cluster galaxies (BCGs). The results unambiguously reveal that massive quiescent galaxies can form in growing large-scale structures at z > 3, thus disfavoring the environmental quenching mechanisms that require a virialized cluster core. Instead, as suggested by the interacting and bulge-dominated morphologies, the two galaxies are likely quenched by merger-triggered starburst or active galactic nucleus (AGN) feedback before falling into a cluster core. Moreover, we found that the observed specific star formation rates of massive quiescent galaxies in z > 3 dense environments are one to two orders of magnitude lower than that of the BCGs in the TNG300 simulation. This discrepancy potentially poses a challenge to the models of massive cluster galaxy formation. Future studies comparing a large sample with dedicated cluster simulations are required to solve the problem.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL4
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Galaxies: clusters: general
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Galaxies: structure


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