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The hidden side of cosmic star formation at z > 3: Bridging optically dark and Lyman-break galaxies with GOODS-ALMA

Xiao, M.-Y.; Elbaz, D.; Gómez-Guijarro, C.; Leroy, L.; Bing, L.-J.; Daddi, E.; Magnelli, B.; Franco, M.; Zhou, L.; Dickinson, M.; Wang, T.; Rujopakarn, W.; Magdis, G.E.; Treister, E.; Inami, H.; Demarco, R.; Sargent, M.T.; Shu, X.; Kartaltepe, J.S.; Alexander, D.M.; Béthermin, M.; Bournaud, F.; Ciesla, L.; Ferguson, H.C.; Finkelstein, S.L.; Giavalisco, M.; Gu, Q.-S.; Iono, D.; Juneau, S.; Lagache, G.; Leiton, R.; Messias, H.; Motohara, K.; Mullaney, J.; Nagar, N.; Pannella, M.; Papovich, C.; Pope, A.; Schreiber, C.; Silverman, J.

The hidden side of cosmic star formation at z > 3: Bridging optically dark and Lyman-break galaxies with GOODS-ALMA Thumbnail


M.-Y. Xiao

D. Elbaz

C. Gómez-Guijarro

L. Leroy

L.-J. Bing

E. Daddi

B. Magnelli

M. Franco

L. Zhou

M. Dickinson

T. Wang

W. Rujopakarn

G.E. Magdis

E. Treister

H. Inami

R. Demarco

M.T. Sargent

X. Shu

J.S. Kartaltepe

M. Béthermin

F. Bournaud

L. Ciesla

H.C. Ferguson

S.L. Finkelstein

M. Giavalisco

Q.-S. Gu

D. Iono

S. Juneau

G. Lagache

R. Leiton

H. Messias

K. Motohara

J. Mullaney

N. Nagar

M. Pannella

C. Papovich

A. Pope

C. Schreiber

J. Silverman


Our current understanding of the cosmic star formation history at z > 3 is primarily based on UV-selected galaxies (Lyman-break galaxies, i.e., LBGs). Recent studies of H-dropouts (HST-dark galaxies) have revealed that we may be missing a large proportion of star formation that is taking place in massive galaxies at z > 3. In this work, we extend the H-dropout criterion to lower masses to select optically dark or faint galaxies (OFGs) at high redshifts in order to complete the census between LBGs and H-dropouts. Our criterion (H > 26.5 mag & [4.5] < 25 mag) combined with a de-blending technique is designed to select not only extremely dust-obscured massive galaxies but also normal star-forming galaxies (typically E(B − V) > 0.4) with lower stellar masses at high redshifts. In addition, with this criterion, our sample is not contaminated by massive passive or old galaxies. In total, we identified 27 OFGs at zphot > 3 (with a median of zmed = 4.1) in the GOODS-ALMA field, covering a wide distribution of stellar masses with log(M⋆/M⊙) = 9.4 − 11.1 (with a median of log(M⋆med/M⊙) = 10.3). We find that up to 75% of the OFGs with log(M⋆/M⊙) = 9.5 − 10.5 were neglected by previous LBGs and H-dropout selection techniques. After performing an optical-to-millimeter stacking analysis of the OFGs, we find that rather than being limited to a rare population of extreme starbursts, these OFGs represent a normal population of dusty star-forming galaxies at z > 3. The OFGs exhibit shorter gas depletion timescales, slightly lower gas fractions, and lower dust temperatures than the scaling relation of typical star-forming galaxies. Additionally, the total star formation rate (SFRtot = SFRIR + SFRUV) of the stacked OFGs is much higher than the SFRUVcorr (SFRUV corrected for dust extinction), with an average SFRtot/SFRUVcorr = 8 ± 1, which lies above (∼0.3 dex) the 16–84th percentile range of typical star-forming galaxies at 3 ≤ z ≤ 6. All of the above suggests the presence of hidden dust regions in the OFGs that absorb all UV photons, which cannot be reproduced with dust extinction corrections. The effective radius of the average dust size measured by a circular Gaussian model fit in the uv plane is Re(1.13 mm) = 1.01 ± 0.05 kpc. After excluding the five LBGs in the OFG sample, we investigated their contributions to the cosmic star formation rate density (SFRD). We found that the SFRD at z > 3 contributed by massive OFGs (log(M⋆/M⊙) > 10.3) is at least two orders of magnitude higher than the one contributed by equivalently massive LBGs. Finally, we calculated the combined contribution of OFGs and LBGs to the cosmic SFRD at z = 4 − 5 to be 4 × 10−2 M⊙ yr−1 Mpc−3, which is about 0.15 dex (43%) higher than the SFRD derived from UV-selected samples alone at the same redshift. This value could be even larger, as our calculations were performed in a very conservative way.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 23, 2023
Publication Date 2023-04
Deposit Date May 26, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2023
Journal Astronomy & Astrophysics
Print ISSN 0004-6361
Electronic ISSN 1432-0746
Publisher EDP Sciences
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 672
Article Number A18
Public URL


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