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A recently quenched galaxy 700 million years after the Big Bang

Looser, TJ, D'Eugenio, F, Maiolino, R, Witstok, J, Sandles, L, Curtis-Lake, E, Chevallard, J, Tacchella, S, Johnson, BD, Baker, WM, Suess, KA, Carniani, S, Ferruit, P, Arribas, S, Bonaventura, N, Bunker, AJ, Cameron, AJ, Charlot, S, Curti, M, de Graaff, A , Maseda, MV, Rawle, T, Rix, H-W, Del Pino, BR, Smit, R, Übler, H, Willott, C, Alberts, S, Egami, E, Eisenstein, DJ, Endsley, R, Hausen, R, Rieke, M, Robertson, B, Shivaei, I, Williams, CC, Boyett, K, Chen, Z, Ji, Z, Jones, GC, Kumari, N, Nelson, E, Perna, M, Saxena, A and Scholtz, J (2024) A recently quenched galaxy 700 million years after the Big Bang. Nature. pp. 53-57. ISSN 0028-0836

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Local and low-redshift (z < 3) galaxies are known to broadly follow a bimodal distribution: actively star-forming galaxies with relatively stable star-formation rates and passive systems. These two populations are connected by galaxies in relatively slow transition. By contrast, theory predicts that star formation was stochastic at early cosmic times and in low-mass systems1,2,3,4. These galaxies transitioned rapidly between starburst episodes and phases of suppressed star formation, potentially even causing temporary quiescence—so-called mini-quenching events5,6. However, the regime of star-formation burstiness is observationally highly unconstrained. Directly observing mini-quenched galaxies in the primordial Universe is therefore of utmost importance to constrain models of galaxy formation and transformation7,8. Early quenched galaxies have been identified out to redshift z < 5 (refs. 9,10,11,12) and these are all found to be massive (M⋆ > 1010 M⊙) and relatively old. Here we report a (mini-)quenched galaxy at z = 7.3, when the Universe was only 700 Myr old. The JWST/NIRSpec spectrum is very blue (U–V = 0.16 ± 0.03 mag) but exhibits a Balmer break and no nebular emission lines. The galaxy experienced a short starburst followed by rapid quenching; its stellar mass (4–6 × 108 M⊙) falls in a range that is sensitive to various feedback mechanisms, which can result in perhaps only temporary quenching.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: General Science & Technology
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: Nature Research
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 10 May 2024 14:50
Last Modified: 10 May 2024 15:00
DOI or ID number: 10.1038/s41586-024-07227-0
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/23226
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