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The Astrophysical Journal


We study a sample of 69 X-ray detected early-type galaxies (ETGs), selected from the Chandra COSMOS survey, to explore the relation between the X-ray luminosity of hot gaseous halos (L X, gas) and the integrated stellar luminosity (LK ) of the galaxies, in a range of redshift extending out to z = 1.5. In the local universe, a tight, steep relationship has been established between these two quantities, suggesting the presence of largely virialized halos in X-ray luminous systems. We use well-established relations from the study of local universe ETGs, together with the expected evolution of the X-ray emission, to subtract the contribution of low-mass X-ray binary populations from the X-ray luminosity of our sample. Our selection minimizes the presence of active galactic nuclei (AGNs), yielding a sample representative of normal passive COSMOS ETGs; therefore, the resulting luminosity should be representative of gaseous halos, although we cannot exclude other sources such as obscured AGNs or enhanced X-ray emission connected with embedded star formation in the higher-z galaxies. We find that most of the galaxies with estimated LX < 1042 erg s–1 and z < 0.55 follow the L X, gas-LK relation of local universe ETGs. For these galaxies, the gravitational mass can be estimated with a certain degree of confidence from the local virial relation. However, the more luminous (1042 erg s–1 <LX < 1043.5 erg s–1) and distant galaxies present significantly larger scatter; these galaxies also tend to have younger stellar ages. The divergence from the local L X, gas-LK relation in these galaxies implies significantly enhanced X-ray emission up to a factor of 100 larger than predicted from the local relation. We discuss the implications of this result for the presence of hidden AGNs, and the evolution of hot halos, in nuclear and star formation feedback.