Damien Louis Alexandre Spérone-Longin
Galaxies live in very different types of environment. Those different environments are relics from the evolution of the Universe since the Big Bang. This network of structures observed via large scale surveys is called Cosmic Web.
Within this web, galaxies can be isolated, in a filament, in a group, or in a cluster. When part of a cluster of galaxies, their morphologies, gas content (cold and hot), and star formation activities is seen to be affected by other galaxies, or by the gas inside the cluster. However, the long-term effects of the local environment on galaxy evolution remain unclear. Also, it has been observed that a pre-processing is happening long before the galaxies enter the cluster cores, which could explain the build-up of the passive galaxy sequence, where galaxies have quenched star formation. The aim of this thesis is to see if and how the cold molecular gas reservoir of galaxies is modified when star formation activity is decreasing and if there is a link with the position of the galaxy in the CW around the cluster.
We gathered unprecedented observations: the first and largest survey of the molecular gas content of galaxies in and around the same cluster environment at intermediate redshifts. These Atacama Large Millimeter Array observations are part of a larger survey called Spatially Extended ESO Distant Cluster Survey. We are focusing on two clusters at a redshift of 0.5, which benefit from previous deep photometric and spectroscopic observations. This will allow us to derive accurate stellar masses and star formation rates, in order to compare those galaxies to other surveys of the cold gas content of galaxies, either in the field or inside different clusters. We unveiled a new population of galaxies with normal star formation rates but less cold molecular gas than other galaxies at the same stellar mass. This could be an indication that the gas reservoir responsible for the star formation changes either in mass or properties, before the star formation is affected. We also noticed that galaxies with the lowest cold-molecular-gas-to-stellar-mass ratios are preferentially either in the cluster core or in overdensities away from the cluster, confirming the existence of a pre-processing in overdensities surrounding the cluster. But active galaxies inside or close to the cluster, do not always have depleted CO reservoir.
This thesis opens up new prospects on the study of the cold gas content of galaxies at intermediate redshift. It showed the necessity to observe galaxies that are in a transition regime between star forming and passive, in order to understand how star formation is suppressed around clusters. Those results could be extended to much larger samples, with the help of the upcoming new generation of instruments such as the Square Kilometer Array.EPFL