Skip to main content
Unpublished Paper
Characterizing Faint Galaxies in the Reionization Epoch: LBT Confirms Two L < 0.2L Sources at Z = 6.4 Behind The Clash/Frontier Fields Cluster MACS0717.5+3745
The Astrophysical Journal (2014)
  • E. Vanzella
  • A. Fontana
  • A. Zitrin
  • E. Coe
  • L. Bradley
  • M. Postman
  • A. Grazian
  • M. Castellano
  • L. Pentericci
  • Mauro Giavalisco, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • P. Rosati
  • M. Nonino
  • R. Smit
  • L. Balestra
  • R. Bouwens
  • S. Cristiani
  • E. Giallongo
  • W. Zheng
  • L. Infante
  • F. Cusano
  • R. Speziali
We report the LBT/MODS1 spectroscopic confirmation of two images of faint Lyman alpha emitters at z = 6.4 behind the Frontier Fields galaxy cluster MACSJ0717.5+3745. A wide range of lens models suggests that the two images are highly magnified, with a strong lower limit of μ > 5. These are the faintest z > 6 candidates spectroscopically confirmed to date. These may be also multiple images of the same z = 6.4 source as supported by their similar intrinsic properties, but the lens models are inconclusive regarding this interpretation. To be cautious, we derive the physical properties of each image individually. Thanks to the high magnification, the observed near-infrared (rest frame ultraviolet) part of the spectral energy distributions and Lyα lines are well detected with S/N(m1500) & 10 and S/N(Ly_) ≃ 10 − 15. Adopting μ > 5, the absolute magnitudes, M1500, and Lyα fluxes, are fainter than −18.7 and 2.8 × 10−18 ergs−1cm−2, respectively. We find a very steep ultraviolet spectral slope β = −3.0±0.5 (Fλ = λβ), implying that these are very young, dust-free and low metallicity objects, made of standard stellar populations or even extremely metal poor stars (age 30Myr, E(B-V)=0 and metallicity 0.0−0.2Z/Z⊙). The objects are compact (< 1kpc2), and with a stellar mass M⋆ < 108M⊙. The very steep _, the presence of the Lyα line and the intrinsic FWHM (< 300 kms−1) of these newborn objects do not exclude a possible leakage of ionizing radiation. We discuss the possibility that such faint galaxies may resemble those responsible for cosmic reionization.
  • dark ages,
  • reionization,
  • first stars,
  • cosmology: observations,
  • galaxies: formation
Publication Date
Prepublished version downloaded from ArXiv. Published version is located at
Citation Information
E. Vanzella, A. Fontana, A. Zitrin, E. Coe, et al.. "Characterizing Faint Galaxies in the Reionization Epoch: LBT Confirms Two L < 0.2L Sources at Z = 6.4 Behind The Clash/Frontier Fields Cluster MACS0717.5+3745" The Astrophysical Journal (2014)
Available at: