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Published March 11, 2013 | Published
Journal Article Open

Inferring the mass of submillimetre galaxies by exploiting their gravitational magnification of background galaxies


Dust emission at submillimetre wavelengths allows us to trace the early phases of star formation in the Universe. In order to understand the physical processes involved in this mode of star formation, it is essential to gain knowledge about the dark matter structures – most importantly their masses – that submillimetre galaxies live in. Here we use the magnification effect of gravitational lensing to determine the average mass and dust content of submillimetre galaxies with 250 μm flux densities of S_250 > 15 mJy selected using data from the Herschel Multi-tiered Extragalactic Survey. The positions of hundreds of submillimetre foreground lenses are cross-correlated with the positions of background Lyman-break galaxies at z ∼ 3–5 selected using optical data from the Canada–France–Hawaii Telescope Legacy Survey. We detect a cross-correlation signal at the 7σ level over a sky area of 1 deg^2, with ∼80 per cent of this signal being due to magnification, whereas the remaining ∼20 per cent comes from dust extinction. Adopting some simple assumptions for the dark matter and dust profiles and the redshift distribution enables us to estimate the average mass of the haloes hosting the submillimetre galaxies to be log _(10)[M_200/M_⊙] = 13.17^(+0.05)_(−0.08)(stat.) and their average dust mass fraction (at radii of >10 kpc) to be M_dust/M_200 ≈ 6 × 10^(−5). This supports the picture that submillimetre galaxies are dusty, forming stars at a high rate, reside in massive group-sized haloes and are a crucial phase in the assembly and evolution of structure in the Universe.

Additional Information

© 2013 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2012 December 6. Received 2012 November 26; in original form 2012 November 11. First published online: January 7, 2013. Herschel is an ESA space observatory with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia and with important participation from NASA. SPIRE has been developed by a consortium of institutes led by Cardiff University (UK) and including Univ. Lethbridge (Canada); NAOC (China); CEA, LAM (France); IFSI, Univ. Padua (Italy); IAC (Spain); Stockholm Observatory (Sweden); Imperial College London, RAL, UCL-MSSL, UKATC, Univ. Sussex (UK) and Caltech/JPL, IPAC, Univ. Colorado (USA). This development has been supported by national funding agencies: CSA (Canada); NAOC (China); CEA, CNES, CNRS (France); ASI (Italy);MCINN (Spain); SNSB (Sweden); STFC, UKSA (UK) and NASA (USA). This research has made use of data from the HerMES project (http://hermes.sussex.ac.uk/). HerMES is a Herschel Key Programme utilizing Guaranteed Time from the SPIRE instrument team, ESAC scientists and a mission scientist. The HerMES data were accessed through the HeDaM data base (http://hedam.oamp.fr) operated by CeSAM and hosted by the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille. The optical data are based on observations obtained with MegaPrime/MegaCam, a joint project of CFHT and CEA/DAPNIA, at the Canada–France–Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) which is operated by the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada, the Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) of France and the University of Hawaii. This work is based in part on data products produced at TERAPIX and the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre, as part of the Canada–France–Hawaii Telescope Legacy Survey, a collaborative project of NRC and CNRS. HH is supported by the Marie Curie IOF 252760, a CITA National Fellowship and the DFG grant Hi 1495/2-1. LvW is supported by NSERC and CIfAR. DS acknowledges support by NSERC and CSA. TE is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft through project ER 327/3-1 and the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre TR 33 – 'The Dark Universe'. RFJvdB acknowledges support from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientic Research grant number 639.042.814. Author Contributions: HH led the analysis and wrote the draft version of the paper. LvW and DS contributed significantly in the development of this project through ideas and discussions on a daily basis. MB provided the redshift distribution of the submillimetre galaxies. TE led the optical data reduction and calibration. RFJvdB provided the luminosity function estimate of the background galaxies. All other co-authors contributed extensively and equally by their varied contributions to the SPIRE instrument, the Herschelmission, analysis of SPIRE and HerMES data, planning of HerMES observations and scientific support of HerMES and by commenting on this manuscript as part of an internal review process.

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