The UV continua and inferred stellar populations of galaxies at z≃7-9 revealed by the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field 2012 campaign

J. S. Dunlop, A. B. Rogers, R. J. McLure, R. S. Ellis, Brant E Robertson, A. Koekemoer, P. Dayal, E. Curtis-Lake, V. Wild, S. Charlot, R. A A Bowler, M. A. Schenker, M. Ouchi, Y. Ono, M. Cirasuolo, S. R. Furlanetto, Daniel P Stark, T. A. Targett, E. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

102 Scopus citations

Abstract

We use the new ultra-deep, near-infrared imaging of the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field (HUDF) provided by our UDF12 Hubble Space Telescope (HST)Wide Field Camera 3/IR campaign to explore the rest-frame ultraviolet (UV) properties of galaxies at redshifts z ≥ 6.5. We present the first unbiased measurement of the average UV power-law index, (β), (fλ α λβ) for faint galaxies at z≃7, the first meaningful measurements of (β) at z≃8, and tentative estimates for a new sample of galaxies at z≃9. Utilizing galaxy selection in the new F140W (J140) imaging to minimize colour bias, and applying both colour and power-law estimators of β, we find (β)= -2.1 ± 0.2 at z ≃7 for galaxies with MUV ≃-18. This means that the faintest galaxies uncovered at this epoch have, on average, UV colours no more extreme than those displayed by the bluest star-forming galaxies at low redshift. At z ≃ 8 we find a similar value, (β)= -1.9± 0.3. At z ≃ 9, we find (β)= -1.8± 0.6, essentially unchanged from z ≃ 6 to 7 (albeit highly uncertain). Finally, we show that there is as yet no evidence for a significant intrinsic scatter in β within our new, robust z ≃ 7 galaxy sample. Our results are most easily explained by a population of steadily star-forming galaxies with either ≃ solar metallicity and zero dust, or moderately sub-solar (≃10-20 per cent) metallicity with modest dust obscuration (AV ≃ 0.1-0.2). This latter interpretation is consistent with the predictions of a state-of-the-art galaxy-formation simulation, which also suggests that a significant population of very-low metallicity, dust-free galaxies with β ≃ -2.5 may not emerge until MUV > -16, a regime likely to remain inaccessible until the James Webb Space Telescope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3520-3533
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume432
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

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Keywords

  • Evolution-galaxies
  • First stars
  • Formation-galaxies
  • Galaxies
  • High-redshift-galaxies
  • Reionization
  • Stellar content-dark ages

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

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