Physical properties of spectroscopically confirmed galaxies at z ≥ 6. I. basic characteristics of the rest-frame UV continuum and Lyα emission

Linhua Jiang, Eiichi Egami, Matthew Mechtley, Xiaohui Fan, Seth H. Cohen, Rogier A. Windhorst, Romeel S Dave, Kristian Finlator, Nobunari Kashikawa, Masami Ouchi, Kazuhiro Shimasaku

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Abstract

We present deep Hubble Space Telescope near-IR and Spitzer mid-IR observations of a large sample of spectroscopically confirmed galaxies at z ≥ 6. The sample consists of 51 Lyα emitters (LAEs) at z ≃ 5.7, 6.5, and 7.0, and 16 Lyman break galaxies (LBGs) at 5.9 ≤ z ≤ 6.5. The near-IR images were mostly obtained with WFC3 in the F125W and F160W bands, and the mid-IR images were obtained with IRAC in the 3.6 μm and 4.5 μm bands. Our galaxies also have deep optical imaging data from Subaru Suprime-Cam. We utilize the multi-band data and secure redshifts to derive their rest-frame UV properties. These galaxies have steep UV-continuum slopes roughly between β ≃ -1.5 and -3.5, with an average value of β ≃ -2.3, slightly steeper than the slopes of LBGs in previous studies. The slope shows little dependence on UV-continuum luminosity except for a few of the brightest galaxies. We find a statistically significant excess of galaxies with slopes around β ≃ -3, suggesting the existence of very young stellar populations with extremely low metallicity and dust content. Our galaxies have moderately strong rest-frame Lyα equivalent width (EW) in a range of ∼10 to ∼200 Å. The star formation rates are also moderate, from a few to a few tens of solar masses per year. The LAEs and LBGs in this sample share many common properties, implying that LAEs represent a subset of LBGs with strong Lyα emission. Finally, the comparison of the UV luminosity functions between LAEs and LBGs suggests that there exists a substantial population of faint galaxies with weak Lyα emission (EW < 20 Å) that could be the dominant contribution to the total ionizing flux at z ≥ 6.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number99
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume772
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2013

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Keywords

  • cosmology: observations
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: high-redshift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

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