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Mean Hα+[N ii]+[S ii] EW inferred for star-forming galaxies at z  ∼ 5.1–5.4 using high-quality Spitzer /IRAC photometry

Rasappu, N; Smit, R; Labbé, I; Bouwens, RJ; Stark, DP; Ellis, RS; Oesch, PA; (2016) Mean Hα+[N ii]+[S ii] EW inferred for star-forming galaxies at z  ∼ 5.1–5.4 using high-quality Spitzer /IRAC photometry. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) , 461 (4) pp. 3886-3895. 10.1093/mnras/stw1484. Green open access

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Abstract

Recent Spitzer/InfraRed Array Camera (IRAC) photometric observations have revealed that rest-frame optical emission lines contribute significantly to the broad-band fluxes of high-redshift galaxies. Specifically, in the narrow redshift range z ∼ 5.1–5.4 the [3.6]–[4.5] colour is expected to be very red, due to contamination of the 4.5 μm band by the dominant Hα line, while the 3.6 μm filter is free of nebular emission lines. We take advantage of new reductions of deep Spitzer/IRAC imaging over the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey-North+South fields (Labbé et al. 2015) to obtain a clean measurement of the mean Hα equivalent width (EW) from the [3.6]–[4.5] colour in the redshift range z = 5.1–5.4. The selected sources either have measured spectroscopic redshifts (13 sources) or lie very confidently in the redshift range z = 5.1–5.4 based on the photometric redshift likelihood intervals (11 sources). Our zphot = 5.1–5.4 sample and zspec = 5.10–5.40 spectroscopic sample have a mean [3.6]–[4.5] colour of 0.31 ± 0.05 and 0.35 ± 0.07 mag, implying a rest-frame EW (Hα+[N II]+[S II]) of 665 ± 53 and 707 ± 74 Å, respectively, for sources in these samples. These values are consistent albeit slightly higher than derived by Stark et al. at z ∼ 4, suggesting an evolution to higher values of the Hα+[N II]+[S II] EW at z > 2. Using the 3.6 μm band, which is free of emission line contamination, we perform robust spectral energy distribution fitting and find a median specific star formation rate of sSFR = 17+2−517−5+2 Gyr−1, 7+1−2×7−2+1× higher than at z ∼ 2. We find no strong correlation (<2σ) between the Hα+[N II]+[S II] EW and the stellar mass of sources. Before the advent of JWST, improvements in these results will come through an expansion of current spectroscopic samples and deeper Spitzer/IRAC measurements.

Type: Article
Title: Mean Hα+[N ii]+[S ii] EW inferred for star-forming galaxies at z  ∼ 5.1–5.4 using high-quality Spitzer /IRAC photometry
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw1484
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stw1484
Language: English
Additional information: This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2016 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Galaxies: evolution, galaxies: formation, galaxies: high-redshift
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Physics and Astronomy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1507997
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