The average physical properties and star formation histories of the UV-brightest star-forming galaxies at z ∼ 3.7

Kyoung Soo Lee, Arjun Dey, Naveen Reddy, Michael J I Brown, Anthony H. Gonzalez, Buell Tomasson Jannuzi, Michael C. Cooper, Xiaohui Fan, Fuyan Bian, Eilat Glikman, Daniel Stern, Mark Brodwin, Asantha Cooray

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We investigate the average physical properties and star formation histories (SFHs) of the most UV-luminous star-forming galaxies at z ∼ 3.7. Our results are based on the average spectral energy distributions (SEDs), constructed from stacked optical-to-infrared photometry, of a sample of the 1913 most UV-luminous star-forming galaxies found in 5.3 deg2 of the NOAO Deep Wide-Field Survey. We find that the shape of the average SED in the rest optical and infrared is fairly constant with UV luminosity, i.e., more UV-luminous galaxies are, on average, also more luminous at longer wavelengths. In the rest UV, however, the spectral slope β (≡ dlogF λ/dlogλ; measured at 0.13 μm < λrest < 0.28 μm) rises steeply with the median UV luminosity from -1.8 at L ≈ L* to -1.2 (L ≈ 4-5L*). We use population synthesis analyses to derive their average physical properties and find that (1) L UV and thus star formation rates (SFRs) scale closely with stellar mass such that more UV-luminous galaxies are also more massive, (2) the median ages indicate that the stellar populations are relatively young (200-400Myr) and show little correlation with UV luminosity, and (3) more UV-luminous galaxies are dustier than their less-luminous counterparts, such that L ≈ 4-5L* galaxies are extincted up to A(1600) = 2mag while L ≈ L* galaxies have A(1600) = 0.7-1.5mag. We argue that the average SFHs of UV-luminous galaxies are better described by models in which SFR increases with time in order to simultaneously reproduce the tight correlation between the UV-derived SFR and stellar mass and their universally young ages. We demonstrate the potential of measurements of the SFR-M * relation at multiple redshifts to discriminate between simple models of SFHs. Finally, we discuss the fate of these UV-brightest galaxies in the next 1-2Gyr and their possible connection to the most massive galaxies at z ∼ 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number99
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2011



  • cosmology: observations
  • dust, extinction
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: formation
  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • galaxies: stellar content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

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