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Title: Insight from JWST /Near Infrared Camera into galaxy overdensities around bright Lyman-alpha emitters during reionization: implications for ionized bubbles at z ∼ 9
ABSTRACT

Several studies have detected Lyman-alpha (Ly α) from bright ($M_{\small UV}\lesssim -21.5$) galaxies during the early stages of reionization despite the significantly neutral intergalactic medium. To explain these detections, it has been suggested that z > 7 Ly α emitters (LAEs) inhabit physical Mpc (pMpc)-scale ionized regions powered by overdensities of faint galaxies; however, systematic searches for these overdensities near LAEs have been challenging. Here, we use Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science JWST/Near Infrared Camera imaging to search for large-scale galaxy overdensities near two very ultraviolet (UV)-bright, z = 8.7 LAEs in the Extended Groth Strip (EGS) field. We colour select 27 z = 8.4–9.1 candidates, including the one LAE in the footprint (EGSY8p7). From spectral energy distribution models, we infer moderately faint UV luminosities ($-21.2\lesssim {M_{\small UV}}\lesssim -19.1$) and stellar masses of M* ≈ 107.5–8.8 M⊙. All are efficient ionizing agents ($\xi _{\text{ion}}^{*}\approx 10^{25.5-26.0}$ Hz erg−1) and are generally morphologically simple with only one compact (re ≲ 140 to ∼650 pc) star-forming component. 13 candidates lie within 5 arcmin of EGSY8p7, leading to a factor-of-four galaxy overdensity at ≲5 arcmin (∼1.4 projected pMpc at z ∼ 8.7) separations from EGSY8p7. Separations of 10–15 arcmin (∼2.7–4.1 projected pMpc) are consistent with an average field. The spatial distribution of our sample may qualitatively suggest an R ≥ 2 pMpc ionized bubble encompassing both LAEs in EGS, which is theoretically unexpected but may be possible for a galaxy population four times more numerous than the average to create with moderate escape fractions (fesc ≳ 0.15) over long times (≳ 200 Myr). Upcoming spectroscopic follow-up will characterize the size of any ionized bubble that may exist and the properties of the galaxies powering such a bubble.

 
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NSF-PAR ID:
10494529
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
529
Issue:
2
ISSN:
0035-8711
Format(s):
Medium: X Size: p. 855-872
Size(s):
p. 855-872
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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