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Physics  2013 

Discovery of Lyman Break Galaxies at z~7 from the ZFOURGE Survey

DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/768/1/56

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Star-forming galaxies at redshifts z>6 are likely responsible for the reionization of the universe, and it is important to study the nature of these galaxies. We present three candidates for z~7 Lyman-break galaxies (LBGs) from a 155 arcmin^2 area in the CANDELS/COSMOS field imaged by the deep FourStar Galaxy Evolution (zFourGE) survey. The FourStar medium-band filters provide the equivalent of R~10 spectroscopy, which cleanly distinguishes between z~7 LBGs and brown dwarf stars. The distinction between stars and galaxies based on an object's angular size can become unreliable even when using HST imaging; there exists at least one very compact z~7 candidate (FWHM~0.5-1 kpc) that is indistinguishable from a point source. The medium-band filters provide narrower redshift distributions compared with broad-band-derived redshifts. The UV luminosity function derived using the three z~7 candidates is consistent with previous studies, suggesting an evolution at the bright end (MUV -21.6 mag) from z~7 to z~5. Fitting the galaxies' spectral energy distributions, we predict Lyman-alpha equivalent widths for the two brightest LBGs, and find that the presence of a Lyman-alpha line affects the medium-band flux thereby changing the constraints on stellar masses and UV spectral slopes. This illustrates the limitations of deriving LBG properties using only broad-band photometry. The derived specific star-formation rates for the bright LBGs are ~13 per Gyr, slightly higher than the lower-luminosity LBGs, implying that the star-formation rate increases with stellar mass for these galaxies.


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