Submillimetre galaxies reside in dark matter haloes with masses greater than 3 × 1011 solar masses

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The extragalactic background light at far-infrared wavelengths1,2,3 comes from optically faint, dusty, star-forming galaxies in the Universe with star formation rates of a few hundred solar masses per year4. These faint, submillimetre galaxies are challenging to study individually because of the relatively poor spatial resolution of far-infrared telescopes5,6. Instead, their average properties can be studied using statistics such as the angular power spectrum of the background intensity variations7,8,9,10. A previous attempt11 at measuring this power spectrum resulted in the suggestion that the clustering amplitude is below the level computed with a simple ansatz based on a halo model12. Here we report excess clustering over the linear prediction at arcminute angular scales in the power spectrum of brightness fluctuations at 250, 350 and 500 μm. From this excess, we find that submillimetre galaxies are located in dark matter haloes with a minimum mass, Mmin, such that log10[Mmin/M] = at 350 μm, where M is the solar mass. This minimum dark matter halo mass corresponds to the most efficient mass scale for star formation in the Universe13, and is lower than that predicted by semi-analytical models for galaxy formation14.

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Figure 1: The two-dimensional power spectrum of the Herschel map.
Figure 2: Far-infrared bolometric luminosity density (8–1,110 μm) and star formation rate (SFR) as a function of redshift.


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SPIRE has been developed by a consortium of institutes led by Cardiff University (UK) and including the University of Lethbridge (Canada); NAOC (China); CEA and LAM (France); IFSI and the University of Padua (Italy); IAC (Spain); Stockholm Observatory (Sweden); Imperial College London, RAL, UCL-MSSL, UKATC and the University of Sussex (UK); and Caltech/JPL, IPAC and the University of Colorado (USA). This development has been supported by national funding agencies: CSA (Canada); NAOC (China); CEA, CNES and CNRS (France); ASI (Italy); MCINN (Spain); SNSB (Sweden); STFC (UK); and NASA (USA). We thank M. Viero for comments. A.A., A. Cooray, P.S., A.A.K., K.M.-W. and other US co-authors are supported by NASA funds for US participants in Herschel through an award from JPL.

Author information

This paper represents the combined work of the HerMES collaboration, the SPIRE Instrument Team’s Extragalactic Survey, and has been extensively internally reviewed. A. Cooray planned the study, supervised the research work of A.A. and P.S., and wrote the draft version of this paper. A.A. performed the power spectrum measurements and P.S. interpreted those measurements with the halo model. All other co-authors of this paper contributed extensively and equally by their varied contributions to the SPIRE instrument, Herschel mission, analysis of SPIRE and HerMES data, planning of HerMES observations and scientific support of HerMES, and by commenting on this manuscript as part of an internal review process.

Correspondence to Asantha Cooray.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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The data presented in this paper are publicly available from the ESA/Herschel Science Archive ( under the observational identifications 1342186108, 1342186109 and 1342185536. Derived products by the HerMES collaboration, such as source catalogues, will be released through HeDaM (

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The file contains Supplementary Notes and Data, Supplementary Figures 1-13 with legends, Supplementary Tables 1-3 and additional references. (PDF 3048 kb)

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