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Evidence for Ubiquitous High-equivalent-width Nebular Emission in z ~ 7 Galaxies: Toward a Clean Measurement of the Specific Star-formation Rate Using a Sample of Bright, Magnified Galaxies

Smit, R. and Zitrin, A. (2014) Evidence for Ubiquitous High-equivalent-width Nebular Emission in z ~ 7 Galaxies: Toward a Clean Measurement of the Specific Star-formation Rate Using a Sample of Bright, Magnified Galaxies. Astrophysical Journal, 784 (1). Art. No. 58. ISSN 0004-637X. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20140605-131024879

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Abstract

Growing observational evidence indicates that nebular line emission has a significant impact on the rest-frame optical fluxes of z ~ 5-7 galaxies. This line emission makes z ~ 5-7 galaxies appear more massive, with lower specific star-formation rates (sSFRs). However, corrections for this line emission have been difficult to perform reliably because of huge uncertainties on the strength of such emission at z ≳ 5.5. In this paper, we present the most direct observational evidence thus far for ubiquitous high-equivalent-width (EW) [O III] + Hβ line emission in Lyman-break galaxies at z ~ 7, and we present a strategy for an improved measurement of the sSFR at z ~ 7. We accomplish this through the selection of bright galaxies in the narrow redshift window z ~ 6.6-7.0 where the Spitzer/Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) 4.5 μm flux provides a clean measurement of the stellar continuum light, in contrast with the 3.6 μm flux, which is contaminated by the prominent [O III] + Hβ lines. To ensure a high signal-to-noise ratio for our IRAC flux measurements, we consider only the brightest (H_(160) < 26 mag) magnified galaxies we have identified behind galaxy clusters. It is remarkable that the mean rest-frame optical color for our bright seven-source sample is very blue, [3.6]-[4.5] = –0.9 ± 0.3. Such blue colors cannot be explained by the stellar continuum light and require that the rest-frame EW of [O III] + Hβ is greater than 637 Å for the average source. The four bluest sources from our seven-source sample require an even more extreme EW of 1582 Å. We can also set a robust lower limit of ≳ 4 Gyr^(–1) on the sSFR of our sample based on the mean spectral energy distribution.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X/784/1/58PublisherArticle
http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/784/1/58DOIArticle
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Smit, R.0000-0001-8034-7802
Zitrin, A.0000-0002-0350-4488
Additional Information:© 2014 American Astronomical Society. Received 2013 July 22; accepted 2014 January 17; published 2014 March 4. We thank Jeff Cooke, Rob Crain, Eichii Egami, Andrea Ferrara, Marijn Franx, Max Pettini, Norbert Pirzkal, and Vivienne Wild for interesting conversations. Eichii Egami independently discovered the same extreme [3.6]–[4.5] colors in at least one of the sources from the present sample. We thank Pascal Oesch for useful feedback on our manuscript. We acknowledge support from ERC grant HIGHZ No. 227749, an NWO Vrij Competitie grant, and the NASA grant for the CLASH MCT program. Support for A.Z. is provided by NASA through Hubble Fellowship grant no. HST-HF-51334.01-A awarded by STScI, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., for NASA, under contract NAS 5-26555. Part of this work was also supported by contract research “Internationale Spitzenforschung II/2-6” of the Baden Württemberg Stiftung. The work of L.A.M. was carried out at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA.
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
European Research Council (ERC)227749
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)UNSPECIFIED
NASA Hubble FellowshipHST-HF-51334.01-A
NASANAS 5-26555
Baden Württemberg Stiftung Internationale SpitzenforschungII/2-6
NASA/JPL/CaltechUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:galaxies: evolution; galaxies: formation; galaxies: high-redshift
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140605-131024879
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20140605-131024879
Official Citation:Evidence for Ubiquitous High-equivalent-width Nebular Emission in z ~ 7 Galaxies: Toward a Clean Measurement of the Specific Star-formation Rate Using a Sample of Bright, Magnified Galaxies R. Smit et al. 2014 ApJ 784 58
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:46101
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:05 Jun 2014 21:44
Last Modified:27 Mar 2019 19:52

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