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Title: Bursty Star Formation Naturally Explains the Abundance of Bright Galaxies at Cosmic Dawn

Recent discoveries of a significant population of bright galaxies at cosmic dawnz10have enabled critical tests of cosmological galaxy formation models. In particular, the bright end of the galaxys’ UV luminosity functions (UVLFs) appear higher than predicted by many models. Using approximately 25,000 galaxy snapshots at 8 ≤z≤ 12 in a suite of FIRE-2 cosmological “zoom-in” simulations from the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project, we show that the observed abundance of UV-bright galaxies at cosmic dawn is reproduced in these simulations with a multichannel implementation of standard stellar feedback processes, without any fine-tuning. Notably, we find no need to invoke previously suggested modifications, such as a nonstandard cosmology, a top-heavy stellar initial mass function, or a strongly enhanced star formation efficiency. We contrast the UVLFs predicted by bursty star formation in these original simulations to those derived from star formation histories (SFHs) smoothed over prescribed timescales (e.g., 100 Myr). The comparison demonstrates that the strongly time-variable SFHs predicted by the FIRE simulations play a key role in correctly reproducing the observed, bright-end UVLFs at cosmic dawn: the bursty SFHs induce order-or-magnitude changes in the abundance of UV-bright (MUV≲ −20) galaxies atz≳ 10. The predicted bright-end UVLFs are consistent with both the spectroscopically confirmed population and the photometrically selected candidates. We also find good agreement between the predicted and observationally inferred integrated UV luminosity densities, which evolve more weakly with redshift in FIRE than suggested by some other models.

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Award ID(s):
1652522 2108230 2307327
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal Letters
Medium: X Size: Article No. L35
["Article No. L35"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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