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Contamination of Broadband Photometry by Nebular Emission in High-redshift Galaxies: Investigations with Keck's MOSFIRE Near-infrared Spectrograph

Schenker, Matthew A. and Ellis, Richard S. and Konidaris, Nick P. and Stark, Daniel P. (2013) Contamination of Broadband Photometry by Nebular Emission in High-redshift Galaxies: Investigations with Keck's MOSFIRE Near-infrared Spectrograph. Astrophysical Journal, 777 (1). Art. No. 67. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/777/1/67. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20130618-101400122

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Abstract

Earlier work has raised the potential importance of nebular emission in the derivation of the physical characteristics of high-redshift Lyman break galaxies. Within certain redshift ranges, and especially at z ≃ 6-7, such lines may be strong enough to reduce estimates of the stellar masses and ages of galaxies compared with those derived assuming the broadband photometry represents stellar light alone. To test this hypothesis at the highest redshifts where such lines can be probed with ground-based facilities, we examine the near-infrared spectra of a representative sample of 28 3.0 < z < 3.8 Lyman break galaxies using the newly commissioned MOSFIRE near-infrared spectrograph at the Keck I telescope. We use these data to derive the rest-frame equivalent widths (EWs) of [O III] emission and show that these are comparable with estimates derived using the spectral energy distribution (SED) fitting technique introduced for sources of known redshift by Stark et al. Although our current sample is modest, its [O III] EW distribution is consistent with that inferred for Hα based on SED fitting of Stark et al.'s larger sample of 3.8 < z < 5 galaxies. For a subset of survey galaxies, we use the combination of optical and near-infrared spectroscopy to quantify kinematics of outflows in z ≃ 3.5 star-forming galaxies and discuss the implications for reionization measurements. The trends we uncover underline the dangers of relying purely on broadband photometry to estimate the physical properties of high-redshift galaxies and emphasize the important role of diagnostic spectroscopy.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/777/1/67DOIArticle
https://arxiv.org/abs/1306.1518arXivDiscussion Paper
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Ellis, Richard S.0000-0001-7782-7071
Konidaris, Nick P.0000-0003-1905-2815
Alternate Title:Contamination of Broad-Band Photometry by Nebular Emission in High Redshift Galaxies: Investigations with Keck's MOSFIRE Near-Infrared Spectrograph
Additional Information:© 2013 American Astronomical Society. Received 2013 June 6; accepted 2013 August 31; published 2013 October 17. We thank Chuck Steidel and Ian McLean for their hard work in developing the MOSFIRE instrument and the anonymous referee for comments that helped significantly improve this manuscript. The Keck observatory staff proved invaluable and we thank them for their dedication to maintaining a world-class observatory. We also wish to recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Mauna Kea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain. N.P.K. was supported by NSF grant 1106171.
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSFAST-1106171
Subject Keywords:galaxies: evolution – galaxies: high-redshift – galaxies: starburst
Issue or Number:1
DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/777/1/67
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130618-101400122
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20130618-101400122
Official Citation:Contamination of Broadband Photometry by Nebular Emission in High-redshift Galaxies: Investigations with Keck's MOSFIRE Near-infrared Spectrograph Matthew A Schenker et al. 2013 ApJ 777 67
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:38967
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:18 Jun 2013 17:49
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:41

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