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Physics  2003 

The z ~ 4 Lyman Break Galaxies: Colors and Theoretical Predictions

DOI: 10.1086/378579

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We investigate several fundamental properties of z ~ 4 Lyman-break galaxies by comparing observations with the predictions of a semi-analytic model based on the Cold Dark Matter theory of hierarchical structure formation. We use a sample of B_{435}-dropouts from the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey, and complement the ACS optical B_{435}, V_{606}, i_{775}, and z_{850} data with the VLT ISAAC J, H, and K_{s} observations. We extract B_{435}-dropouts from our semi-analytic mock catalog using the same color criteria and magnitude limits that were applied to the observed sample. We find that the i_{775} - K_{s} colors of the model-derived and observed B_{435}-dropouts are in good agreement. However, we find that the i_{775}-z_{850} colors differ significantly, indicating perhaps that either too little dust or an incorrect extinction curve have been used. Motivated by the reasonably good agreement between the model and observed data we present predictions for the stellar masses, star formation rates, and ages for the z ~ 4 Lyman-break sample. We find that according to our model the color selection criteria used to select our z ~ 4 sample surveys 67% of all galaxies at this epoch down to z_{850} < 26.5. We find that our model predicts a roughly 40% mass build-up between the z \~ 4 and z ~ 3 epochs for the UV rest-frame L* galaxies. Furthermore, according to our model, at least 50% of the total stellar mass resides in relatively massive UV-faint objects that fall below our observational detection limit.


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