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Unveiling the nature of infrared bright, optically dark galaxies with early JWST data

Barrufet, L, Oesch, PA, Weibel, A, Brammer, G, Bezanson, R, Bouwens, R, Fudamoto, Y, Gonzalez, V, Gottumukkala, R, Illingworth, G, Heintz, KE, Holden, B, Labbe, I, Magee, D, Naidu, RP, Nelson, E, Stefanon, M, Smit, R, van Dokkum, P, Weaver, JR and Williams, CC (2023) Unveiling the nature of infrared bright, optically dark galaxies with early JWST data. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 522 (1). pp. 449-456. ISSN 0035-8711

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Over the last few years, both Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and Spitzer observations have revealed a population of likely massive galaxies at z > 3 that was too faint to be detected in Hubble Space Telescope (HST) rest-frame ultraviolet imaging. However, due to the very limited photometry for individual galaxies, the true nature of these so-called HSTdark galaxies has remained elusive. Here, we present the first sample of such galaxies observed with very deep, high-resolution NIRCam imaging from the Early Release Science programme CEERS. 30 HST-dark sources are selected based on their red colours across 1.6–4.4 μm. Their physical properties are derived from 12-band multiwavelength photometry, including ancillary HST imaging. We find that these galaxies are generally heavily dust-obscured (AV ∼ 2 mag), massive (log (M/M☉) ∼ 10), star-forming sources at z ∼ 2-8 with an observed surface density of ∼0.8 arcmin-2. This suggests that an important fraction of massive galaxies may have been missing from our cosmic census at z > 3 all the way into the Epoch of Reionization. The HST-dark sources lie on the main sequence of galaxies and add an obscured star formation rate density of 3.2+1.8-1.3 × 10-3 M☉ yr-1 Mpc-3 at z ∼ 7, showing likely presence of dust in the Epoch of Reionization. Our analysis shows the unique power of JWST to reveal this previously missing galaxy population and to provide a more complete census of galaxies at z = 2-8 based on rest-frame optical imaging.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences; Astronomy & Astrophysics
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP)
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2023 17:00
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2023 17:00
DOI or ID number: 10.1093/mnras/stad947
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19761
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