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On the Stellar Populations and Evolution of Star-Forming Galaxies at 6.3 < z < 8.6
Astrophysical Journal (2009)
  • Steven L. Finkelstein
  • Casey Papovich
  • Mauro Giavalisco, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • Naveen A. Reddy
  • Henry C. Ferguson
  • Anton M. Koekemoer
  • Mark Dickinson
We study the physical characteristics of galaxies at 6.3 < z < 8.6, selected from deep near-infrared imaging with the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) on board the Hubble Space Telescope. Accounting for the photometric scatter using simulations, galaxies at z ~ 7 have bluer UV colors compared to typical local starburst galaxies at > 4 sigma confidence. Although these colors necessitate young ages (<100 Myr), low or zero dust attenuation, and low metallicities, these are explicable by normal (albeit unreddened) stellar populations, with no evidence for near-zero metallicities and/or top-heavy initial mass functions. The age of the Universe at these redshifts limits the amount of stellar mass in late-type populations, and the WFC3 photometry implies galaxy stellar masses ~ 10^8 - 10^9 Msol for Salpeter initial mass functions to a limiting magnitude of M_1500 ~ -18. The masses of ``characteristic'' (L*) z > 7 galaxies are smaller than those of L* Lyman break galaxies (LBGs) at lower redshifts, and are comparable to less evolved galaxies selected on the basis of their Lyman alpha emission at 3 < z < 6, implying that the 6.3 < z < 8.6 galaxies are the progenitors of more evolved galaxies at lower redshifts. We estimate that Lyman alpha emission is able to contribute to the observed WFC3 colors of galaxies at these redshifts, with an estimated typical line flux of ~ 10^-18 erg s^-1 cm^-2, roughly a factor of four below currently planned surveys. The integrated UV specific luminosity for the detected galaxies at z ~ 7 and z ~ 8 is within factors of a few of that required to reionize the IGM assuming low clumping factors, implying that in order to reionize the Universe galaxies at these redshifts have a high ( ~ 50%) escape fraction of Lyman continuum photons, possibly substantiated by the very blue colors of this population.
  • early universe,
  • galaxies: evolution,
  • galaxies: formationgalaxies: high-redshift,
  • intergalactic medium,
  • ultraviolet: galaxies
Publication Date
Publisher Statement
This paper was harvested from and ArXiv identifier is arXiv:0912.1338
Citation Information
Steven L. Finkelstein, Casey Papovich, Mauro Giavalisco, Naveen A. Reddy, et al.. "On the Stellar Populations and Evolution of Star-Forming Galaxies at 6.3 < z < 8.6" Astrophysical Journal (2009)
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