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Title: Evolution of the Mass–Metallicity Relation from Redshift z ≈ 8 to the Local Universe

A tight positive correlation between the stellar mass and the gas-phase metallicity of galaxies has been observed at low redshifts. The redshift evolution of this correlation can strongly constrain theories of galaxy evolution. The advent of JWST allows probing the mass–metallicity relation at redshifts far beyond what was previously accessible. Here we report the discovery of two emission line galaxies at redshifts 8.15 and 8.16 in JWST NIRCam imaging and NIRSpec spectroscopy of targets gravitationally lensed by the cluster RX J2129.4+0005. We measure their metallicities and stellar masses along with nine additional galaxies at 7.2 <zspec< 9.5 to report the first quantitative statistical inference of the mass–metallicity relation atz≈ 8. We measure ∼0.9 dex evolution in the normalization of the mass–metallicity relation fromz≈ 8 to the local universe; at a fixed stellar mass, galaxies are 8 times less metal enriched atz≈ 8 compared to the present day. Our inferred normalization is in agreement with the predictions of FIRE simulations. Our inferred slope of the mass–metallicity relation is similar to or slightly shallower than that predicted by FIRE or observed at lower redshifts. We compare thez≈ 8 galaxies to extremely low-metallicity analog candidates in the local universe, finding that they are generally distinct from extreme emission line galaxies or “green peas,” but are similar in strong emission line ratios and metallicities to “blueberry galaxies.” Despite this similarity, at a fixed stellar mass, thez≈ 8 galaxies have systematically lower metallicities compared to blueberry galaxies.

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AAS Journals
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Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
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Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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