skip to main content

Title: The impact of UV variability on the abundance of bright galaxies at z ≥ 9

JWST observations have revealed a population of galaxies bright enough that potentially challenge standard galaxy formation models in the Λ cold dark matter (ΛCDM) cosmology. Using a minimal empirical framework, we investigate the influence of variability on the rest-frame ultra-violet (UV) luminosity function of galaxies at z ≥ 9. Our study differentiates between the median UV radiation yield and the variability of UV luminosities of galaxies at a fixed dark matter halo mass. We primarily focus on the latter effect, which depends on halo assembly and galaxy formation processes and can significantly increase the abundance of UV-bright galaxies due to the upscatter of galaxies in lower-mass haloes. We find that a relatively low level of variability, σUV ≈ 0.75 mag, matches the observational constraints at z ≈ 9. However, increasingly larger σUV is necessary when moving to higher redshifts, reaching $\sigma _{\rm UV} \approx 2.0\, (2.5)\, {\rm mag}$ at z ≈ 12 (16). This implied variability is consistent with expectations of physical processes in high-redshift galaxies such as bursty star formation and dust clearance during strong feedback cycles. Photometric constraints from JWST at z ≳ 9 therefore can be reconciled with a standard ΛCDM-based galaxy formation model calibrated at lower redshifts without the need for adjustments to the median UV radiation yield.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 3254-3261
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) promises to revolutionize our understanding of the early Universe, and contrasting its upcoming observations with predictions of the Λ cold dark matter model requires detailed theoretical forecasts. Here, we exploit the large dynamic range of the IllustrisTNG simulation suite, TNG50, TNG100, and TNG300, to derive multiband galaxy luminosity functions from z = 2 to z = 10. We put particular emphasis on the exploration of different dust attenuation models to determine galaxy luminosity functions for the rest-frame ultraviolet (UV), and apparent wide NIRCam bands. Our most detailed dust model is based on continuum Monte Carlo radiative transfer calculations employing observationally calibrated dust properties. This calibration results in constraints on the redshift evolution of the dust attenuation normalization and dust-to-metal ratios yielding a stronger redshift evolution of the attenuation normalization compared to most previous theoretical studies. Overall we find good agreement between the rest-frame UV luminosity functions and observational data for all redshifts, also beyond the regimes used for the dust model calibrations. Furthermore, we also recover the observed high-redshift (z = 4–6) UV luminosity versus stellar mass relation, the H α versus star formation rate relation, and the H α luminosity function at z = 2. The bright end (MUV > −19.5) cumulative galaxy number densities are consistent with observational data. For the F200W NIRCam band, we predict that JWST will detect ∼80 (∼200) galaxies with a signal-to-noise ratio of 10 (5) within the NIRCam field of view, $2.2\times 2.2 \, {\rm arcmin}^{2}$, for a total exposure time of $10^5\, {\rm s}$ in the redshift range z = 8 ± 0.5. These numbers drop to ∼10 (∼40) for an exposure time of $10^4\, {\rm s}$. 
    more » « less
  2. ABSTRACT Cold Dark Matter with cosmological constant (ΛCDM) cosmological models with early dark energy (EDE) have been proposed to resolve tensions between the Hubble constant $H_0=100\, h$ km ṡ−1Ṁpc−1 measured locally, giving h ≈ 0.73, and H0 deduced from Planck cosmic microwave background (CMB) and other early-Universe measurements plus ΛCDM, giving h ≈ 0.67. EDE models do this by adding a scalar field that temporarily adds dark energy equal to about 10 per cent of the cosmological energy density at the end of the radiation-dominated era at redshift z ∼ 3500. Here, we compare linear and non-linear predictions of a Planck-normalized ΛCDM model including EDE giving h = 0.728 with those of standard Planck-normalized ΛCDM with h = 0.678. We find that non-linear evolution reduces the differences between power spectra of fluctuations at low redshifts. As a result, at z = 0 the halo mass functions on galactic scales are nearly the same, with differences only 1–2 per cent. However, the differences dramatically increase at high redshifts. The EDE model predicts 50 per cent more massive clusters at z = 1 and twice more galaxy-mass haloes at z = 4. Even greater increases in abundances of galaxy-mass haloes at higher redshifts may make it easier to reionize the universe with EDE. Predicted galaxy abundances and clustering will soon be tested by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) observations. Positions of baryonic acoustic oscillations (BAOs) and correlation functions differ by about 2 per cent between the models – an effect that is not washed out by non-linearities. Both standard ΛCDM and the EDE model studied here agree well with presently available acoustic-scale observations, but the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument and Euclid measurements will provide stringent new tests. 
    more » « less

    The variety of star formation histories (SFHs) of z ≳ 6 galaxies provides important insights into early star formation, but has been difficult to systematically quantify. Some observations suggest that many z ∼ 6–9 galaxies are dominated by ≳200 Myr stellar populations, implying significant star formation at z ≳ 9, while others find that most reionization era galaxies are ≲10 Myr, consistent with little z ≳ 9 star formation. Here, we quantify the distribution of ages of UV-bright ($-22.5\lesssim M_{\rm \small UV}\lesssim -21$) galaxies colour-selected to lie at z ≃ 6.6–6.9, an ideal redshift range to systematically study the SFHs of reionization era galaxies with ground-based observatories and Spitzer. We infer galaxy properties with two SED modelling codes and compare results, finding that stellar masses are largely insensitive to the model, but the inferred ages can vary by an order of magnitude. We infer a distribution of ages assuming a simple, parametric SFH model, finding a median age of ∼30–70 Myr depending on SED model. We quantify the fractions of ≤10 and ≥250 Myr galaxies, finding that these systems comprise ∼15–30 per cent and ∼20–25 per cent of the population, respectively. With a flexible SFH model, the shapes of the SFHs are consistent with those implied by the simple model (e.g. young galaxies have rapidly rising SFHs). However, stellar masses can differ significantly, with those of young systems sometimes being more than an order of magnitude larger with the flexible SFH. We quantify the implications of these results for z ≳ 9 stellar mass assembly and discuss improvements expected from JWST.

    more » « less
  4. We present a Hubble Space Telescope (HST) weak gravitational lensing study of nine distant and massive galaxy clusters with redshifts 1.0 ≲  z  ≲ 1.7 ( z median  = 1.4) and Sunyaev Zel’dovich (SZ) detection significance ξ  > 6.0 from the South Pole Telescope Sunyaev Zel’dovich (SPT-SZ) survey. We measured weak lensing galaxy shapes in HST/ACS F 606 W and F 814 W images and used additional observations from HST/WFC3 in F 110 W and VLT/FORS2 in U HIGH to preferentially select background galaxies at z  ≳ 1.8, achieving a high purity. We combined recent redshift estimates from the CANDELS/3D-HST and HUDF fields to infer an improved estimate of the source redshift distribution. We measured weak lensing masses by fitting the tangential reduced shear profiles with spherical Navarro-Frenk-White (NFW) models. We obtained the largest lensing mass in our sample for the cluster SPT-CL J2040−4451, thereby confirming earlier results that suggest a high lensing mass of this cluster compared to X-ray and SZ mass measurements. Combining our weak lensing mass constraints with results obtained by previous studies for lower redshift clusters, we extended the calibration of the scaling relation between the unbiased SZ detection significance ζ and the cluster mass for the SPT-SZ survey out to higher redshifts. We found that the mass scale inferred from our highest redshift bin (1.2 <  z  < 1.7) is consistent with an extrapolation of constraints derived from lower redshifts, albeit with large statistical uncertainties. Thus, our results show a similar tendency as found in previous studies, where the cluster mass scale derived from the weak lensing data is lower than the mass scale expected in a Planckν ΛCDM (i.e. ν Λ cold dark matter) cosmology given the SPT-SZ cluster number counts. 
    more » « less

    With JWST, new opportunities to study the evolution of galaxies in the early Universe are emerging. Spitzer constraints on rest-optical properties of z ≳ 7 galaxies demonstrated the power of using galaxy stellar masses and star formation histories (SFHs) to indirectly infer the cosmic star formation history. However, only the brightest individual z ≳ 8 objects could be detected with Spitzer, making it difficult to robustly constrain activity at z ≳ 10. Here, we leverage the greatly improved rest-optical sensitivity of JWST at z ≳ 8 to constrain the ages of seven UV-bright ($M_{\rm uv}\lesssim -19.5$) galaxies selected to lie at z ∼ 8.5–11, then investigate implications for z ≳ 15 star formation. We infer the properties of individual objects with two spectral energy distribution modelling codes, then infer a distribution of ages for bright z ∼ 8.5–11 galaxies. We find a median age of ∼20 Myr, younger than that inferred at z ∼ 7 with a similar analysis, consistent with an evolution towards larger specific star formation rates at early times. The age distribution suggests that only ∼3 per cent of bright z ∼ 8.5–11 galaxies would be similarly luminous at z ≳ 15, implying that the number density of bright galaxies declines by at least an order of magnitude between z ∼ 8.5–11 and $z \sim 15$. This evolution is challenging to reconcile with some early JWST results suggesting the abundance of bright galaxies does not significantly decrease towards very early times, but we suggest this tension may be eased if young stellar populations form on top of older stellar components, or if bright z ∼ 15 galaxies are observed during a burst of star formation.

    more » « less